Rather than pillage and plunder its own heritage, Neo Ouija exceeds itself and the tradition it helped rear by compiling this two disc set of melodic techno that is not so much machinistic as it is fragile, flawed, and human. The first half of this newly fallen apple clearly has a firm grasp of the language of melodic techno, and individual pieces update its cut and splice idioms with contemporary digital textures. The selection is first-rate, with each artist represented by strong compositions.
Aesthetic pleasure and raw enthusiasm arise in equal measure over tracks from Tilman Ehrhorn, Pridon, and Mxm. The latter’s long tones, glitter, ring, and slice through the textures, while his percussion merges with the synthesizer’s muttering, scuttling staccatos licks. Further works stir the mix with alterations in tempo and the vagaries of texture that remain within the tradition without ever seeming constrained by it. The slice from A Made Up Sound, for instance, sounds like a cluster of pastel rocks rolling down a streambed as tentative trebly keyboard notes swirl overhead. Each piece here is rendered vivid, and their appeal is immediate and enduring.
The second half is sprung more from nostalgia: selections from Kangding Ray, Maps and Diagrams, Andrey Kiritchenko, and Nacht Plank and Shintaro Aoki harken back to the Neo Ouija of yore and exude a majestic presence through the slow drizzle of their glassy synths, their long, melancholic builds, snap-turtle beats, and throbbing arpeggios. Still, many of the rhythms here remain well established; and the waves of ambience are often transformed into a gradually animated progression. With Cottage Industries 5 Neo Ouija thus arrives back on the scene with their agency and agenda well in hand.