I remember when FatCat Records from London UK first started up 6 years ago, I knew it would be a long running, innovative label with crucial releases. That soon came to true with artists like Múm, Matmos, Process, Mice Parade, Team Doyobi, the Dylan Group and Sigur Rós. Branches & Routes is a 2 cd set which surveys FatCat's 6 year history as well as featuring several exclusive tracks. I really enjoyed the interesting mix of artists and styles on display here, and even was able to check out some groups I had previously not paid attention to in the past, whom I want to hear more by in the future now.
Favorites from disc one start off with Pursuant to the Vibe by Mice Parade and Green Grass Tunnel by Múm . Both have a somber laid back organic feel to them, allowing melodies and rhythm to stretch as one. I've been listening to Múm again a lot lately and have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting their expressive electronic symphonies of longing and beauty. Mice Parade are a bit more down to earth sounding, with their krautrock dub drone, but are no less expressive in nature. I was unaware that Process was even on FatCat back in '98, but fell in love with their minimal sound when they were on Traum - I'm kicking myself now for not picking up their cd at Twisted Village a couple of weeks ago for $7. I think a return trip is in order because their minimal sound transcends the simplistic realm of processed rhythms which are used. Kid 606 was little known when he graced the Fat Cat roster (and is now quite well known with his Tigerbeat 6 label), so it's nice to hear one of his early sides here. Funkstörung give Björk a tweaked out remix treatment which is a real treat to hear, I'm sure their our Björk fans who would want to get this cd for this remix alone. Matmos bring us their nutty madness on Freak N You which is from a split 12 inch single and is a nice follow-up to the Björk track (since they work as her backing band now). Stromba's unreleased track Invisible Stink is a thudding industrial breakbeat masterwork which reminds me of Christoph De Babalon at his primo best (it's too bad they didn't include anything by him on this compilation as well).
Disc two starts out with an unreleased Sigur Rós song which sounds like a short Brian Eno ambient piece. I remember seeing Fennesz cds but don't recall ever listening to them, but I was digging on the minimal dub of their song Badminton Girl. Team Doyobi always offer up some funky tidbits that get the samplers going mad and E5 is no exception. Com.A adds the Japanese touch to the track Radio Squelch Crush Land which sounds like it would fit cosily next to a Kid 606 track. I never really listened to the Dylan Group, and always knew it was a big mistake to ignore them: Avila demonstrates my idiocy quite well as it sounds like a jazzy funk workout. Murder License by Xinlisupreme is another Japanese delight of extraordinary power which jackhammers along with a combination of rhythmic madness and soundtrack extravagance all combined with a gauze of distortion. Black Dice bring everything back down on the mellow side with the dreamy Things Will Never Be the Same, wrapping up an enjoyable trip through the FatCat Records library.