"At the disco there is a mentasm... You will find me there..."
So begins Cornwallis' "At The Disco", a robot-voiced spoken word oddity released on Power Vacuum in 2015.
Power Vacuum is all about the mentasm: the mental orgasm, the moment when psychoactive electronics remould your grey matter into discombobulating new shapes, and when silliness, surreality, and playful aggression flip the sensible order of things upside down.
To celebrate its 25th release, the UK label--brainchild of veteran producer & performer Milo Smee, aka Bintus & Kruton--offers a sweeping survey of the sound it's developed since 2012, binding together disparate strains of rave DNA and uniting hard dance veterans with a new generation of devotees.
Three cassettes feature a trio of label associates mixing tracks from the catalogue. Jerome Hill tackles techno, from tonking old-school flavours through to scalpel-sharp industrial steppers; Mark Broom charts a dark, winding and sometimes whimsical path through electro; and Smee himself shows off Power Vacuum's breadth. Few labels hold onto a consistent aesthetic whilst ranging so far, from the blunted New York hip-hop of Sensational & Kruton to the turbocharged terror of Duran Duran Duran.
The accompanying 6-track V/A EP pushes the label's sound onwards. Following the usual Power Vacuum M.O., its cast of eccentrics and recluses aren't exactly famous, but they've been around the block a few times and they know what they're about. Cranky, esoteric Techno forms the core of the release, from Chicago's Beau Wanzer, Croatia's Robert Merlak (as Remainder) and Glasgow's DAIYE aka Dave Shades. Finnish-Russian Mustatunturi offers up a panic-inducing drum machine cascade in "Usva", and the duo Nitro Cosmetic deliver curdled cosmic disco.
Perhaps strangest of all is Benzedrine Nightmare's "Ultra-Sox", an absurd and bewildering slow-jam miniature made according to strict procedural rules. The place where fierce discipline and utter nonsense collide: that's Power Vacuum.