Reviews

Various Artists
8 Years of Cakeshop

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9/10

It’s a strange date for a club to commemorate, its eighth anniversary; the bronze one (right between copper and pottery, apparently.) But the mind can’t help but flip ‘8’ on its side into eternity’s symbol. It at least signifies how long Seoul institution Cakeshop means to continue championing club culture both locally and internationally from their Itaewan-ro HQ — the former site of an illegal strip club, their name in neon to invoke a similar kind of anything-goes illicitness. Fittingly enough, 8 Years of Cakeshop is as comprehensive a compilation as you’d hope, recalling the kind of scene celebration Warp gushed about on the first Artificial Intelligence release — and similarly, it’s full of what we might narrowly recognise as ‘IDM’.

A welcome mischievous streak present throughout 8 Years of Cakeshop belies that fact; it more likely brings to mind the studied amateurism of early rave than Autechre’s abstracted sonic marathons, demanding bodily stamina over the cerebral. This isn’t damning with faint praise; ultimately, the compilation is stacked with music purpose-built for an excellent time, unpretentious but still boundary-breaking much in the way of Nyege Nyege Tapes and Príncipe Discos, bonking dance music conventions on the head with a giant cartoon mallet. DJ Ase Manual ’s ‘World Music Part 1’ is a densely layered exercise in pairing jazzy organ chords with the CD-skip juke of Traxman or DJ Rashad, its looping vocal snippet strangely reminiscent of Weebl’s ‘Badgers’. Mobilegirl’s ‘Iknowalilfreak’ doubles down on the belligerence, mapping its lurid sample so far to the upper end of the keyboard as to risk sounding ridiculous. Letta and YEHAIYAHAN’s ‘Nothing Left For Me’ draws from UK garage staples, but its vocal line veers far enough into the realm of discordance that it transforms into something infectious and fascinating.

For every jarring moment across the hi-nrg tracklist, there’s a touch of welcome respite in viscous, pseudo-ambient squelches from DJ Python and 106 MIDO, but the overall appeal of 8 Years of Cakeshop — if not contemporary club acts the world over willing to venture beyond the breaches of taste for their bangers — is its unapologetic desire to rock your insides and prod at circadian rhythms. This compilation feels like a near-perfect representative of that fact.

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