Tape Review: ‘AR001 Compilation Vol​. 1’

Various Artists

AR001 Compilation Vol​.​ 1

(Autolysis Records)

Jacksonville, Florida-based record label, blog, and podcast Autolysis Records put out their first sampler in February of this year, showcasing songs from the label’s current roster. It is their first physical release, limited to a run of seven copies. The unique approach of Autolysis is evident upon unboxing the tape, which is unmistakably hand-painted. So is each J-card. While many of the songs on this compilation can be found elsewhere in their catalog, the sampler works wonderfully as a standalone or as a quick introduction to the artists and styles found on the label’s releases.

“Drift”, an IDM cut from Plastic Spirit, opens the album. The track is punctuated by its deep, resonant kicks, and hard-hitting snare, the two of which beat out urgent, unpredictable rhythms that rise and fall in speed and intensity throughout. An evolving and mutating ambience builds around the twinkling of electric piano and the wah-like swellings of a resonant synth pattern.

Legal Threat’s first contribution here is an atmospheric standout , beginning with a loop of mechanical noise that builds into a stark  and dissonant soundtrack to the claustrophobic horrors of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”. A wonderful sense of space is achieved as a warbling, metallic clamor moves around the mix, ringing and reverberating like so many bells. With the foreboding title of “Subsidized Sunrise”, this piece rings out with otherworldly layers of noise and church-bell tolling and tintinnabulation before making its way gradually into a mystical and transformative out-come. This track comes from their 2020 EP Froon, released on Autolysis.

Legal Threat returns later on with “Someday”, a track in a totally different vein, taking the airy vocal samples of trip-hop and nu-jazz and pairing them with Kid606-esque breakbeat stutters. Sparse piano chords fill out the melody as the mix rises in action around a more straight forward Amen-break that is reworked into a frenzy before pulling back to give attention to a singular vocal sample.

Unkool Scam contributes two tracks to this tape, the first of which is a collaboration with Chaos Studio. A slow moving, enveloping down-tempo banger, “Into The Mist” builds up from a fuzzy intro into a head-nodding , laid-back groove, but is never predictable or short on lavish atmosphere. Spacey melodies weave in and out of the mix. A stop-start pacing and frequent breaks give time for the underlying orchestration to sink in before returning to the main beat. On the second half of the tape, the slow-mounting “If Only You Could See What I See Through Your Eyes” builds up over four minutes with a steadily throbbing kick and reversed snare beating behind dusty, haunted keyboards.

More than just an outlet for DnB, techno and some of the more progressive and genre-bending variants of electronic music, Autolysis is home to alternative rock outsider-artist Steye, whose contributions bring riff-driven song-writing and effect-drenched, live vocals to the table. The fuzzy riffing that drives Steye’s “Latch 5” gives way to an experimental vocal bombardment, evocative of The Butthole Surfers’ early “Gibby-tronic” vocal effects and contemporaries Ween’s use of pitch shifting. The speed and intensity of punk and alt-metal are to be found, with organs beating out chaotic tangents alongside spastic, effervescent synth squelches like you might hear on a track from Detroit’s Whirlwind Heat. Both of Steye’s offerings come from a self-titled EP from this year.

Built largely around the work of four artists, Compilation Vol. 1 is an instantly likable, varied sampler that explores the lines between lo-fi techno and instrumental hip-hop, idiosyncratic electronica, ambient, and experimental rock. It’s an appealing cassette in its unique design, an inviting introduction to the artists on Autolysis, and a memorably track-listed listen.


Favorite tracks: Legal Threat – “Subsidized Sunrise”, Unkool Scam – “Into The Mist feat. Chaos Studio”


Rating: Strongly Recommended


Dharnyk is an alternative rock and grunge enthusiast living in Louisiana and occasionally performing electronic music as Pink and Yellow.

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