The Unexplained Sounds Group has done more for ambient, electronic, and experimental music than just about any organization lately. Its mid-year review of these genres drives that point home, with four hours of material that is mostly new and hard to find. While one could lump many of these artists under the dark ambient or cinematic monikers, there are also pieces on this compilation that focus on synthesizer, drone, electroacoustic, kosmiche, IDM / beat-driven, minimalism, and classical / chamber music as well.
Artist representation includes those who are reasonably well-known (at least to followers of the label). To that point, Simon McCorry offers up lilting classical with processing and effects, Mauro Sambo provides drones and abstract electronics, and Grey Frequency contributes haunting soundscapes with oscillating tones. But there are inevitably some pleasant surprises on a collection of this scope. These include the creative chaos of Farabi Toshiyuki Suzuki, the GRM-like stylings of MODO AVION, as well as the Dockstader-influenced sound art of TRISWARA. In addition, Med Gen provides a textural ambient piece, Slow Abyss supplies thick, oppressive walls of synth combined with martial rhythms, and A.M. Ferrari Fradejas imparts unusual choral forms coupled with synthesized chamber music.
All said, this is a stellar release. It is a challenge to combine music that is so different in composition and structure, but also in a way that maintains coherence. Somehow, the Unexplained Sounds Group has achieved this goal across 37 artists. Whether you are a seasoned listener or looking for a place to start dabbling in cutting-edge experimental music, 7th Annual Report (Mid Year Edition) comes highly recommended.