Various Artists 

The Asthmatic Worm

When accordion prototype inventor Christian Buschmann left his hometown of Berlin to tour Europe in 1828 with his new portable keyboard-wind-bellows instrument, he was probably seen off with the same polite request that Kraftwerk's landlord might have offered when they left Düsseldorf on their first tour 145 years later: Please see about never coming back. Besides geographical origins, both electronic music and the accordion share embattled (and beloved) histories. So it only makes sense for a German like Heiko Hoffman (editor of Berlin-based e-music magazine Groove) to curate The Asthmatic Worm, a hugely intriguing compilation of twelve accordion-centered electronic tracks.

The music offered by Asthmatic's contributors -- who hail from Iceland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as Deutschland -- integrates the instrument's warm, whooshy tonality into digital soundscapes like Hershey into Skippy. Emotive accordion chords create both a twilight atmosphere in múm's clicky "I'm Nine Today," and carry the melodic heft of the dubby jazz of Hey's "Sans Toi." Meanwhile, staccato melodies evoke stilted lover-gasps over the jazzified techno of Doctor Rockit's "Cafe de Flore" and the minimalist tech-dub of Atom's "Pole vs. Pentatonic Surprise."

By the time you reach the cheekily titled "Would Grandpa Like It?," a monolith of digitally manipulated tone-gusts á la Markus Nikolai, Hoffman's made his case. The Asthmatic Worm's absurd hybrid of archaic wheezes and futurist beats offers up a new and naturally catchy chapter of music history.

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