March 30, 2011

Sach O wishes he could look so easily disaffected.

In the liner notes to Hotflush’s new compilation, there’s lots of talk about the label being a musical outlier. While I won’t disagree that their biggest success stories Mount Kimbie and Joy Orbison stand apart from easy genre classifications, I’d also posit that the label’s best material has carved out a clearly defined lane in Bass music and we’re all the richer for it. Drawing on Dub Techno as much as Dubstep, Hot Flush releases have been heavy on atmosphere, progression and sophistication and light on rah-rah energy and bass-drops. For those with a narrow vision of Dubstep, that makes them “alternative” and for those with a wider definition, a consistently strong left-leaning label whose releases appeal to the deeper and more progressive side of things. It’s a good place to be: more singularly focused than Hyperdub, less restrictive than DMZ, more connected to the world of Techno & Berlin than either yet willing to release projects that defy DJ functionality entirely.

The label’s new compilation “Back & 4th” embodies all of those qualities. Most tracks are built around twirling, minimalist loops and pristine sonic construction, EDM that rewards you for your attention but that’s also perfect for tripping out to on the subway or dance floor. In a world where Bass music has exploded into the party soundtrack of choice for trashed out raver kids (Dub Police, Circus) and umm…trashed out scenesters (Night Slugs, Numbers) this restraint is admirable and feels unique. Not that the CD is devoid of high-impact moments: Boddika’s Warehouse and FaltyDL’s surprisingly dark Regret are peak-time reminders that this style can bang and Scuba’s Feel It is a euphoric victory lap for label owner with a delayed build up complementing Techno’s druggier side without pandering to it. Throw in previously released highlights Hyph Mngo and Sketch on Glass along with tracks by heavy hitters Untold, Roska, Pangea and dBridge and the compilation is a great place to familiarize yourself with the label’s sound. File alongside Exit Records’ Mosaic Volume 1 under “comps of the year” so far and Hyperdub’s 5 under “well curated bass music.”

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