Various Artists – Minute Papillon

Various Artists - Minute Papillon

Second Language’s latest conceptually-driven and elaborately-packaged compilation is certainly the label’s most ambitious and curious yet.  Clocking in at exactly 60 minutes, with 60 different artists each delivering 60 second miniatures, Minute Papillon is a tacit challenge to our increasingly fractured audiological appreciation attention spans.  For whilst many of us are finding it hard not to suffer from shuffle syndrome or infinite playlist mania, making listeners absorb 60 ultra-short snippets is in fact a far more challenging prospect than it first might seem.  With happy predictability however, the expert and esoteric ears at Second Language are more than qualified for the collective job.

Although drafting in a diverse range of contributors from across the globe (many of whom are already veterans of past 2L compendiums and single-artist releases) Minute Papillon miraculously sustains a collective mood and sense of self-containment that even shorter and less staffed compilations would struggle to foster.  With a heavy weighting towards instrumental pieces, the collection inevitably has the air of a soundtrack to an imaginary film, with the vocal cuts interspersed almost as dialogue-aping breaks.  Sonically it builds-upon the gamut of genre trajectories charted on previous 2L releases, as well as finding more than enough space for new routes.

Hence there’s an even spread of esoteric electronica (from Ensemble, Xela, ISAN, Textile Ranch), found and antique-sound explorations (Olivier Namblard, Plinth, The Home Current), warming post-classical calmness (brave timbers, Message To Bears, Danny Norbury) and intimate fleeting folk (Hannah Peel, Primitive Northerner, Rickard Jäverling) to remind us of the alluring distinctiveness that the 2L catalogue has brought thus far.  Fresher and less familiar curveballs spin into the mix from d_rradio and Jenny Brand (with both owing debts to Steve Reich’s enthralling minimalist repetitions), Directorsound (with the bucolic Beirut-like “Piece Of String”), the much-missed Ellis Island Sound (on the sublime early-Kraftwerk moulded “Fragment (1440 Frames)”), and Ringinglow (in the shape of the Joy Division/Dead Can Dance fusion that is “Miranda Grey”).

Naturally, not everything totally connects – like say the glitch-electro injections of Machinefabriek and Scanner – but nothing, as the collection’s rules strictly dictate, is allowed to outstay its welcome.  Overall though, there’s an embarrassment of riches to be unearthed from Minute Papillon, which should ideally be dug out over several successive 60 minute sittings, if only out of respect for its compilers herculean skills of organisation, discipline and sequencing.

Second Language Records