Ten years of experimental electronic music calls for a celebration that shouldn't be without bottle rockets and Less Than Zero depravity, but a bulky commemorative CD set will do the trick. Chicago-based Hefty Records is celebrating its first decade, and these collections offer a sizable cross-section of what hands-on label head John Hughes is still putting out, as well as the significant contributions on which Hefty has built its prominent reputation. The Prefuse mix tape is a noteworthy bonus, too.
Hefty Digest features message board'burners like Telefon Tel Aviv and Savath + Savalas, but its 16-track spread also sheds light on names like Euphone, Retina.It and Bill Ding, whose 'Just a Nick in the Car Doorâ?� 7-inch was among the first of the Hefty releases. Boasting three separate and distinct movements, Bill Ding's multilayered 'Bucket of Strawberriesâ?� falls fifth in the Hefty Digest lineup. Plucked from their 1997 Trust in God But Tie Up Your Camel album, its bold string-laden middle section, abstract vocal offerings from member/Hefty main man John Hughes, and boisterous cat noises in the background may serve as a comprehensive model of the label's diverse output.
Scott Herren backs Hefty Digest with a mix tape segment under his Prefuse 73 alias. While it isn't the kind of mix that's peddled sidewalk-style, with D-Block exclusives and DJ Clue screaming all over it, Herren's selections are just as tight, lined with unreleased cuts and outtake numbers. Some Water and Sun's 'Ah Ohâ?� is a lively mesh of jumpy clicks, clipped vocals and scattershot beats, and Herren fittingly pushes it up against 'Map of What Is Effortless,â?� a vast arrangement of atmospheric shuffles and film-score violins. This half is littered with natural blends and laptop madness; if only Herren traveled the mix-tape circuit more frequently.
The two-disc History Is Bunk: Collaborations, Reinterpretations, and New Compositions set culls new and old, with remixes of Hefty names and unreleased cuts from Slicker (a Hughes alias) and Eliot Lipp, among others. Brilliant West Coaster Daedelus adds percussive madness to Herren project Savath + Savalas for his 'Paths in Soft Focusâ?� remix on Part 1, layering a searing synth melody and a pitched-up vocal sample atop the already quivering structure. Dabrye's work on Some Water and Sun's 'Snowbreakerâ?� teems with icy, digital keystrokes, working logically alongside the vintage analog patches of Eliot Lipp's 'Hefty Naked Ninja Remix.â?� The 1970s aesthetic that honey-coated Lipp's funky Tacoma Mockingbird LP spruces up an impressive batch of new cuts on Part 2, with lovely choral bits in Spanova's 'Absentmindedâ?� and jumbled minimal clicks as provided by Retina.It. In spastic portraits and moments of warmth that redden the cheeks, Hefty is aging like a tasty wine.