Netlabel works are, by nature, untethered. They’re generally the effort of relatively unknown musicians, composing and performing from behind opaque pseudonyms that obscure their identities, and the releases rarely have a physical manifestation, like a CD, or anything else to root them in the broader world. At its essence, a netlabel release is just a free-floating link in the vast ocean of the Internet.
And various-artist collections on netlabels take that rootlessness a step further. A case in point is Hände Hoch! Vol. 2 on the Surreal Madrid label (surrealmadrid.net). It comes with five tracks and no apparent central conceit — except that the title means “hands up” in German, and that in a proper club at a proper hour one or two of these tracks might just make you want to throw your hands in the air, as the song goes.
Of the five, there are three keepers, not bad odds for a free album. Andres y Ralf‘s “Casi sin alzar los Ojos” is distinguished not so much by the liminal underscoring of what seem to be modified field recordings, but by the way occasional modulations at various intervals give the impression of something in the process of waking up, of coming to life (MP3). Mochipet‘s “Kickass Pencilbox,” heard here in a remix by Karaoke Tundra, is that rare treat: an electronica single forged mostly from verbal cues — old-school hip-hop tics and lovely choral fragments from some forgotten ’60s TV theme song; at just under two minutes, it ends way too soon (MP3). And with its scraped-metal textures leaning heavily on drone synths, Mina Halm‘s “Watching Individual Social Perception” is the most likely piece here to be picked up by an aspiring filmmaker to add tension to a scene (MP3).