Review Summary: Just a master putting some work on display
Exm’s Jeroen Bax has had a busy time of it mastering and producing a massive ton of music lately, and while he’s already released three of the top electronic releases of the year with his Odd Times
EP and MMLXXVII
LP, as well as his collaborative project e|m
with Mitoma’s Tam Ferrans, he’s clearly not done with 2022 just yet. Enter Comp
now out on Martin Boulton’s Dyadik label: Carefully compiled by Boulton himself, Comp
features some of exm’s most accessible yet overlooked offerings from over the years, as well as some new touches on old favorites. The selection isn’t biased more nor less to the inclusion of new versus old material, so for those unfamiliar with exm’s staggering IDM work of the past decade, Comp
is a brilliant on-boarding ride that gives a wonderful snapshot of his library.
On the whole, Comp
is a lengthy melodic, easy-going affair through pretty colorful tones and braindance soundscapes. Some of the experimentation and abstraction that initially drew me to him is certainly still present, and it’s often in longer tracks like “Depth Light (ext.)” and the haunting “patterns a” that exm really gets to put his creative genius on display. Taken from 2021’s Descent
LP from Boulton’s more famous Touched Music label, “Depth Light” has been extended here to a full fifteen minutes, the latter half of the track featuring Bax breaking down and building up his cacophony of melodies in a way no other IDM artist working today can match. Following up “Depth Light” is the gorgeous “Kolder”, a track first featured on the phenomenal Adykt
compilation released on Dyadik last year. “Kolder” is among exm’s most accessible songs and more than any other song screams “single” material; in my mind, the song wouldn’t be out of place on Four Tet’s There Is Love In You
LP from 2010 (think “Love Cry” or Angel Echoes”).
Earlier material from pre-2016 or so comes with “Spooky Action At A Distance”, “Cli”, “4w”, “Repr”, and “Relais A9i”, the latter having been featured on both Touched Music’s massive Touched 3
compilation from 2016 and Found Sound
from 2018. I’m glad Boulton chose to include these more deep cuts, as they each deserve more attention and a bigger chance at a wider audience. Boulton is no newbie when it comes to tracking and compiling compilations either, as his Touched Music label is world renowned for its massive, gorgeous IDM compilations. Each song on Comp
works very well off songs coming from before and after and gives the whole compilation an album-like feel.
At nearly 140 minutes in length, Comp
isn’t the kind of release that you’ll be able to sit down and take in with one leisurely listen. In my experience getting to know exm and his wonderful releases, it often takes well over ten attentive listens, if not more—and with time in between—to really digest and appreciate the genius of his work; in this way he’s a bit like IDM-genre legends Autechre and Phoenecia, both of who I cite as major influences on his sound. But if you’re patient and anything like me, you’ll eventually come around to enjoy him. For my money, exm’s Jeroen Bax is the best braindance/IDM artist making music today, so here’s hoping Comp
can open the floodgates and bring in the audience Jeroen truly deserves. If you like Comp
, there’s much more from where this came from.
*Closing the compilation is a remix of “Depth Light” from Yage, of Future Sound of London fame.*