"Phoenix" (Compilation Album, 2001)
Composer/performer Jonathan Sharp is one of those characters, almost a cult figure, on the English underground electronic music scene who has constantly evolved and continued to release challenging and intelligent music. With something close to a dozen different projects providing outlets for his broad musical vision, New Mind has always resided firmly into the industrial camp. This compilation covering the decade from 1991 to 2001 brings together on one album outtakes, unreleased tracks, rarities, remixes and songs salvaged from the technological wasteland, into a curious career overview.
Although there have been just four New Mind albums, it appears from Sharp's work ethic that the full New Mind catalogue including all the previously unreleased material probably doubles what is already out there in the public domain. (There exists over six hours of material for the Zero album alone.) This release on the US Doppler Effect label goes some way to redressing the balance.
Although it is possible to track the development of the industrial music genre throughout this release, JS9, as Sharp is also know as, always managed to retain a distinctive edge, characteristically throwing in leftfield elements into an otherwise fairly familiar base formula. This keeps the listener always on their toes, caught unaware by the myriad ways in which Sharp's imagination is let loose on the form. Most fascinatingly of all are Sharp's notes alongside the booklet tracklisting. Frank and full of trainspotting details, these offer a terrific insight into the wildly unpredictable career path that New Mind has had to grapple with to get a fraction of its compositions out to the listening public. (It should be remembered that whilst New Mind has always centered around Jonathan Sharp, he has over the years been joined by various guests - all of whom get a name check here.)
Such is Sharp's stylistic individuality that whilst signed to German label Machinery, they rejected a four song demo in 1993 (here represented by the track Arcogen) dismissing it as "ambient disco music". Soon after, New Mind's second album option was hastily withdrawn by Machinery and the search for a new label began. Also included is the track 586 Run written for the short black and white horror film Chemical 586. The second half of the 90s is represented predominantly by remixes (including artists like Razed in Black, Gunhed and XOL Dog 400). Sharp's definition of the New Mind sound as 'Psychedelic Hate Noise' isn't far off the mark, but it's clear from this collection that the intellect at work here is broader than any convenient label can hope to capture or reflect. Essential for New Mind fans. 7/10
Official New Mind website: http://bio.terrorist.org/mission-control