Various Artists – Swim Team #2

Various Artists
Swim Team #2

Swim, the London-based avant-electronic label run by former Wire frontman Colin Newman and wife Malka Spigel of the beat-rock band Minimal Compact, is back with their second compilation of artists as diverse as possible while still within the realm of electronic music. There are two great things about this Swim Team series: 1) they feature a host of artists – mostly from Europe – you never heard of but wish you did, and 2) they’re about as diverse as an electronic label gets.
Silo, the Denmark trio, combines electronic beats and distorted background with guitars and organic percussion to create a kind of droning yet rocking track to kick things off with “Root.” Even nicer is the Manchester artist under the name of Toucaen, creating a warm, atmospheric, slightly ambient track that features some delightful, chiming keys over a hushed backdrop. “In Suspension” from Host – a project that features a revolving door of Swim artists and friends – is a moody, eerie electronic track, and Newman pours on the guitars for his own work, the high-powered “Tsunami.”
Newman’s remix of “Prime Movers” by Silo sounds a lot like Massive Attack, and the collaboration between Flying Saucer Attack and Newman’s and Spigel’s project Immersion, while a strange one, works very well on the ultra-cool, slick “Even Further.” Back to the electronic side, “November” by Lobe is a softly up-beat track, light and airy, and “Esc. Meetings” by Dictaphone gets even more ambient and electronic, soft and bleepy. Continuing the slide toward sleep, Symptoms’ bedroom-electronica is a ultra-quiet ambient affair of droning synths.
But things liven up from there. Spigel’s “Antimatter” is a Pizzicato 5-like romp with backwards vocals, and Beatkitten’s “Bored?” is a jazzy, beat-style track with sleepy spoken vocals. Newman’s “Time Will Allow” is perhaps most true to his Wire days, an industrial-dance number with actual vocals. Much more electronic than his work with Silo, Frederik Ammitzboll’s “Copy” is quiet and eerie. Symptoms rears its drowsy head again with “Rose,” and Immersion close out with “Outro.”
The real star of this compilation, as with the first Swim Team, is Bumpy. Now 12 years old, he shows more skill with samples and unique sounds than most artists two or three times his age. “Bumpy On the Beach” has the best beats on the compilation, up-tempo and idiosyncratic, and the odd assortment of samples layered on top work perfectly. And “Blokey” is a fun, up-tempo track that also features the 12-year-old’s first attempts at guitar. He sounds pretty damn good mixing the distorted guitar in with the electronic beats and samples.
The best thing about the Swim Team compilations – other than Bumpy – is that the label keeps the length of the songs down to no more than five minutes, most likely a difficult feat considering electronic musicians’ penchant for lengthy compositions. But if you don’t like one artist here, you get a different and often stylistically different as well musician shortly. While this edition isn’t quite as diverse as the first – focused more on ambient and drones – it highlights some amazing musicians and remarkable works.
You can order the Swim Team albums through the label’s other website at