Album Review: Rebel Rave - Various

Anyone that has followed BlackPlastic for a long time may be aware that Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels label is one of those labels we just have a bit of a soft spot for.

Back in the days when BlackPlastic was just starting out the label captured a unique take on the (then current) emerging Electroclash scene - taking that scene's enthusiasm for experimentalism and pop sensibilities. Rather than applying it to the no-wave post-punk and disco samples that was Electroclash's short-lived treasure trove though it felt like the Crosstown Rebels label was genuinely creating something of the future.

The result was some average to good records but more importantly some genuinely excellent mix albums, both on the Crosstown Rebels label (in the form of Rebel Futurism and the follow up, Rebel Futurism II) and in Lazarus' Suck My Deck compilation for Bugged Out! The latter actually proving a particularly prophetic view of the minimal sound that came to dominate over the years that followed.

With this background in mind a Crosstown Rebels compilation still feels like a bit of an event. Rebel Rave is a three disc set with the first two discs being unmixed and the final on the three discs mixed by Clive Henry.

Sadly Rebel Rave feels dry compared to the relative passion and drive of the albums mentioned above. In reality there are some strong moments - the stripped back minimal of Minilogue's 'Hitchhikers Choice' or the angry vocal of The Royal We's 'Party Guilt' for example - but this really feels like an evolution of the minimal Crosstown Rebels sound rather than a revolution.

Where are the clever moments that re-imagine what a genre can be? For a label that released an album as challenging (and frankly bonkers) as Lazarus' own Smoke The Monster Out this just feels phoned in. Maybe they really believe that this set of tracks are genuinely exciting and defining. Hell, maybe BlackPlastic is just getting too old but we struggle to believe this would ever have raised our pulse without some sort of chemical enhancement.

With a title like Rebel Rave BlackPlastic just expects a bit 'more'.

BP x

Crosstown Rebels Present: Rebel Rave is released today on Crosstown Rebels, available from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].