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Posted on January 28th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Michael Negron

Monstercat’s model for albums is fairly simple: get a bunch of prominent (and not-so-prominent) artists together, get a song from each of them, and pack as much power into a single release as possible. Their history of getting electronic artists noticed without taking rights to the music has earned them scores of fans and a returning base of collaborators, the fuel to their hype machine and the reason their new compilation, Altitude, is the 20th installment of the series. They even managed to recruit Vicetone, who starts off the album with some upbeat electropop fanfare in “What I’ve Waited For,” meeting pretty much all of your expectations: a memorable chorus with an excellent preceding crescendo, and a catchy bassline to boot, concisely wrapped up in a little over three and a half minutes.

That’s something that can’t quite be said for the compilation as a whole. Coming in at more than 130 minutes, excluding the extra say 2 hours of remixes, it’s an expansive set to say the least; an MO of MC comps since their 5th incarnation as Evolution. That’s a risky venture, exposing the compilation to bloat and a lack of coherence, especially considering this is again their 20th official outing. It affects it to a degree, partly due to a disregard for how the album itself is constructed and partly because it simply can’t pull off 30 tracks without filler. Yet, one can’t help but think the length isn’t to blame here: despite a number of relatively high-profile artists like Mr. Fijiwiji and Au5, whose collaboration with album mainstay Danyka Nadeau is among the best of his career, it’s hard not to tune out at points.

Still, the potential for a thoroughly enjoyable experience start-to-finish is obviously there, if not the execution. The best of the album is intelligently interspersed to keep the diehard “listen-in-order” fanatics entertained. One ought to listen all the way through on a first go. There are a number of excellent dark horse tracks that might otherwise be overlooked: say LVTHER’s “One Look” is an inventive pop delicacy, Laszlo’s “Messiah” is an oddly pleasing textural deviation, and just as Altitude sets into a lull, Bustre’s “Everything’s Different” reels you back in. The mix of EDM veterans, newcomers, and underground favorites works to its advantage surprisingly well; the worst that can be said is that some of the tracks are lackluster, but none of them are terrible.

This is undoubtedly not a thematic endeavor anyway, and the hodgepodge of contributions and styles dictates a buffet approach as the default. From an artistic standpoint, what best explains the unity in Altitude is the fact that these artists all more or less occupy the same sound-space at the same time. If you have a hankering for a best-of-2014 electronic music list given form, you could certainly do worse. Monstercat once again provides a mix of the known and the unknown, some good and some mundane, for a price not uncommon to see for works a fourth the size. The fact that there are so many contrasting styles and such a relative lack of conflict proves that Monstercat isn’t just cobbling anything together, and that alone makes it worthy of your time.

Track List:

  1. Vicetone -What I’ve Waited For (feat. D. Brown)
  2. Tristam – My Friend
  3. Aero Chord – Break Them (feat. Anna Yvette)
  4. Pegboard Nerds – Here It Comes (Snavs * Toby Green Remix)
  5. Au5 – Crossroad (feat. Danyka Nadeau)
  6. Sound Remedy & Nitro Fun – Turbo Penguin
  7. Grant Bowtie - Clockwork
  8. Hellberg & Rich Edwards – Ashes (Burn Your Love)(feat. Danyka Nadeau)
  9. Mr. FijiWiji – Believe Her (feat. Meron Ryan)
  10. Favright – Taking Over (feat. Cassandra Kay)(Grabbitz Remix)
  11. Astronaut – Feronia (feat. Danyka Nadeau)
  12. LVTHER – One Look (feat. Mammals)
  13. Rameses B – We Love
  14. Laszlo - Messiah
  15. Tut Tut Child – Breathe (feat. Danyka Nadeau)
  16. Muzzy – Lost Metropolis
  17. Puppet – Scribble (feat. The Eden Project)
  18. Droptek – Killing Time (feat. Isabel Higuero)
  19. Stephen Walking – Top of the World 2
  20. Hellberg – I’m Not Over (feat. Tash)
  21. PIXL – The Escape
  22. Going Quantum - Raw
  23. Nitro Fun – Safe & Sound (feat. Danyka Nadeau)
  24. Rich Edwards – Sweetest Addiction (feat. We Ghosts)
  25. Laszlo - Supernova
  26. Bustre – Everything’s Different
  27. Rootkit – Carry Me Away
  28. Varien – Whispers in the Mist (feat. Aloma Steele)
  29. Fractal - Contact
  30. Direct - Tranquility
  31. Elevation (Album Mix)
  32. Stratosphere (Album Mix)
Monstercat: 020 - Altitude
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

62 / 100
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