So this is gonna be something a little different. I just got the Absolute Grrls Manifesto [chapter 1] box from Alpha Matrix (http://www.alfa-matrix.com/manifesto1/), so I thought I’d review it.
To start off, the concept is pretty awesome. It’s all underground artists – goth, industrial, darkwave, electro stuff – and it’s all bands that are fronted by girls. So it definitely gets points just for concept. And it isn’t just Alfa Matrix artists, which is also really cool. And they’ve dug pretty deep. There are a ton of artists I hadn’t heard of before and a few different languages are represented. I was surprised not to see Emilie Autumn or Zombie Girl represented, but other than that, it feels really representative of underground/indie scene music. Obviously that “indie” part means that a major label act like How to Destroy Angels isn’t in the set, even though they would have totally fit in.
So, the box is spread over four discs and a 40-track downloadable collection. The first two discs are a good mix of dark rock and dance stuff. Disc 3 is more purely dance and has a slightly more ethereal character and disc 4 is heavier, opening with a few kind of operatic metal tracks and then going back to fairly aggressive industrial dance stuff. Almost half the songs on disc 4 are in German.
One thing I really like about the four discs is that they each had some artists that were favorites of mine and some I hadn’t heard of. In terms of favorites, disc 1 has Ayria and The Birthday Massacre, disc 2 has Helalyn Flowers and Neikka RPM and disc 3 has I:Scintilla and disc 4 has the awesome Unter Null. In terms of discoveries, I fell in love with Desdemona’s “euphoria” and Gny’s “beezz.” I can’t tell you anything about Gny, ’cause I’d never heard of them before, but they’re cool. I also REALLY loved Arcana Obscura’s “stella splendens.” I definitely felt like from a discovery standpoint there was a lot of good stuff.
The downloadable tracks feel a little filler-y to me. I mean, it’s cool to bump up the number of tracks to 101 (plus an Alfa Matrix sampler disc), but some of the stuff is really not so good. I did like Nora Below’s “hit me” and Faithful Dawn’s “gothalicta 2012 mix” of “Forever” among others. There’s really nothing specifically wrong with the downloadable songs other than they’re maybe not quite as good as what made it on the discs. There’s a slight “sameness” to some of the songs and bands. If I was listening to it in a club, or while I was writing stuff, it would be totally fine, but I don’t know if I would just put the downloadable tracks on and just listen to them without something else going on. One thing I will say about the downloadable tracks: they were authored as mp3s as if they came from three additional discs, but when you download them, they’re all dumped in one folder, so they’re all out of order from the way they were supposed to be arranged. I thought they made a lot more sense after I dumped them into three folders and listened to them “in order,” but maybe that’s just me.
Other cool things…the whole thing comes from Belgium. I dunno why, but I really like getting packages from other countries. The box also comes with a sampler disc of Alfa Matrix artists, which doesn’t follow the “girls only” rule, but still has some OK stuff on it. Overall, I’m really happy with everything. I would definitely get a [chapter 2] if they ever decide to put one together!!