Perhaps the most onomatopoeic genre description in existence, blip-hop describes the squiggles and squeaks adventurous electronic outfits use to communicate. In the hands of a rhythm-minded DJ, these sounds can be pounded into patterns, creating water-drop-steady beats. Abstract artists might scramble the pitches and frequencies of such transmissions, improvising to compose cyber-jazz. However, the musicians on Luaka Bop’s blip-hop compilation, mostly of Northern European descent, experience these sounds on an entirely different level. Basically, they become machines, speaking in a computer-derived language that becomes casual and conversational with practice. These aren’t cold, unfeeling androids, but listeners can comprehend the subtle emotional shifts and unique industrial humor (represented by sputters and hisses) only if they agree to surrender their own reliance on verbal cues and pay rapt attention to the stories spun by these erratic squawks and squirts.
Such understanding requires concentration, which means this “dance music” is best enjoyed as mental rather than physical exercise. Groups such as Pole and Schneider tm produce perfect background music — songs that can subtly massage listeners’ brains while they engage in other activities, then stimulate their fantasies as they relax, meditate or drift off to sleep. Excellent in almost every way, from its thirteen mind-blowing tracks to label owner David Byrne’s exhaustive liner notes, the album’s only flaw is its title: This collection should inspire countless blip-hop shopping sprees.