Some of the tracks in Shared Secrets: Wave were designed to entrance you with their surreal melodies. Others with their textural intensity. There are even a few that bind us with muscularity only to evolve into a droning, equalizer-defined harmony when we’re least expecting them to. The bottom line here is simple; whether it’s the crunch of Death Rider Demons’ “Robot Friend,” the blistering tonal swell of Dean Thomas’ “Aura,” the circular grooves and unforgiving bassline in Nene’s Butler’s “We Are Controlling,” or the Ministry-style bludgeoning of Vox Initium’s album-shaping “Spatial Ascension,” this compilation from OIM Records is almost guaranteed to get a reaction out of you with every song it features. The medium might be steeped in atmospheric ambient beats, but make no mistake about it – this is one of the most cutting and anti-indulgent works you’re going to find from a collection of experimental artists this year.
Oghamyst bewitches us with a stirring piano melody in “Set My Heart Ablaze” that eventually blossoms into one of the more fascinating melds of psychedelia and neon trip-hop here, but surprisingly enough, it’s not the only track to sport as much in Shared Secrets: Wave. Themorethanevers’ “Last Forever” and Knuckled Fruit’s absolutely mesmerizing “Lost – Found” definitely touch on some similar aesthetics, the latter forming into a mold that instantly reminded me of The Books’ minimalism mixed with a bit of the forwardness you’d expect from a more contemporary lofi outfit. There’s a lot of hybridity to enjoy in this disc, not the least bit of which feels even somewhat tethered to an ongoing trend on the mainstream side of the dial.
Clef’s “Old Days” kicks off the tracklist in style, but it doesn’t set the bar so high that more surreal compositions like “Alfaskeid 21” by Mighty Bear and Astralien’s “Seriphos” fail to match the level of vitality the first song here is introduced with. There’s no unevenness to the material as we move from one piece to the next, and whether we’re listening to Shared Secrets: Wave on shuffle or simply playing it from start to finish without interruption, the flow of the music remains exactly the same. That speaks to the revolution OIM Records is looking to start with this content, and more specifically, what the emerging generation in indie music is striving to unleash.
Along with the aforementioned hits, Simpll Sin’s “Rain,” Movie Night’s “Splash!” and valo.fisen’s “Rooftop Sunset” fill out Shared Secrets: Wave excellently while providing an additional layer of artistic intrigue I definitely don’t come across very often in underground compilations of any genre. There really is something here for everyone, and while I wasn’t familiar with any of the acts featured in this album, I’m absolutely planning on following up with their output in the future. It would be very provocative to hear a more direct collaboration between a lot of these players sometime down the line, but right now, I think it goes without saying that they’re each cultivating a sound as original as it is unforgettable from first exposure.