VARIOUS Intox (Intoxygene)

The 12 tracks on this mid-priced sampler are drawn from the good work of the French label Intoxygene. Much of "Intox" consists of a kind of brittle, spiky, European electro-rock, insufficiently heavy to trouble the industrial crowd but too sinister, claustrophobic and paranoid for the dancefloor. The excerpts from The Young Gods' fine "Second Nature" album included here are perfect primers for the Intoxygene sound. But there are several pleasant exceptions to the rule. Peeping Tom are surely destined for some kind of serious success if they can sustain the imagination of their two performances here over the space of an entire album. "Arthur, The Gatto" begins as a gentle jazz club Hammond and double bass thing, although you know it must have all dribbled out of a MIDI socket even before the rustling electronic percussion kicks in. "Last One" is even better, a teasingly ambiguous monologue extolling the benefits of "good equipment". Y Front's "Daft Boyz" will appeal to any body parts that couldn't get enough of the last Daft Punk album, and solo Young God Franz Treichler's "Quintet Op.1" is reminiscent of Eno being broadcast from a pirate station on the moon. "Intox" might sound a little frayed in places, but it's never boring: any listener whose tastes stray to the darker, shadowy side of electronica should find much of merit here.