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  New Musiq Volume 2
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Plastiq Musiq (2001)
Length: 18 Tracks (73:05 minutes)

From its humble beginnings in 1993 as a mostly hardcore and punk-oriented label, Tooth & Nail Records has gradually broadened its lineup to include everything from rap and hip-hop performers to power pop and heavy metal bands. Along those lines, the New Musiq Volume 2 release offers up 18 tracks from Tooth & Nail's pop-oriented Plastiq Musiq division.  True to the label's focus, the compilation leans heavily on '80s-influenced, synthesizer-driven pop music.  Fine China's driving "Healing for the Angry Hearts" and I Satellite's loping "Bubbleboy" both mirror the output of synth-pop progenitors like Soft Cell and Depeche Mode, while Secret Swimmer's equally fine "Take My Hand" falls in step with the more ethereal textures of, say, Thomas Dolby's "One of our Submarines."  Similarly, Norway's witty, but profound, "My Synthesiser" (I have life in me/ My synthesiser talks to me/ Boy, you've got it made/ Still you curse the day) mirrors the catchy, new wave pop of any number of MTV-friendly artists that came into prominence at the beginning of the '80s.

Given the compilation's long running time and abundance of first-rate material, choosing a best-of-album track becomes a fairly daunting undertaking. Children of the Inquisition's candidate, "Rapture," achieves a sense of acuteness from both its sweeping piano work and its haunting ambient backdrop.  Temper Trend's "Heaven's Hand," by comparison, is an all-out instrumental volley joined to a frenetic set of near-whispered vocals, both of which careen blissfully from start to finish in just over a minute and a half.  Firefly's "Nostalgia"  uses a stream of consciousness lyrical approach (On your bike to Sunday school/ Snakes and ladders to the moon/ The day is over all too soon) to expertly knit its sparse, nearly classical, beginning together with the sludgy, distorted wall of guitar at its end.  And Ultraviolet's compelling "Trials of Love" delivers perhaps the album's most enduring sentiment (Let's just let go/ And give it all up to Him/ Let's taste the blood of Christ / And let the healing begin) by way of its surprisingly workable combination of directness and grace.

Of course, as with nearly any multiple artist collection, the Volume 2 release does contain its share of weaker material.   But the filler constitutes a pleasantly small portion of the release as a whole.  All said, the New Musiq Volume 2 collection displays Plastiq Musiq's solid grasp of the electronic pop genre and serves as powerful testimony to the copious talent that resides within the label's roster of artists.

Bert Gangl  7/9/2001


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