By: Natty Morrison
Label compilation CDs are generally pretty uninspired. Grab your top guys’, get their biggest hits, cram them into one disc and send to the masses. Apparently no one told Deepblip Records they were allowed to phone it in, because they just made one of the most complete and fully satisfying beat-music albums since Flying Lotus’ 2010 Cosmogramma.
The collection opens with a vibrant reworking of label-head Jeremy Judkins’ (aka Shadow Attack) own “Detroit Hustle” as done by label chum, ill.so.naj. The original track, found on Shadow Attack’s recent release, Aquadipped, was an exercise in pure, unadulterated swagger; an all-out electric strut with good vibes to spare. But here, ill.so.naj. decides to trade it all in for something darker and more unsettling. The song is a shell of its former self, more complex and conflicted; at times it can feel like a beat down from a drum machine. But underneath the wild aggression, the beauty of the original tune can still be heard; even when the snare hits are so brutal and sharp it’s hard not to hear them as gun shots. Without wasting time, Ty Beat comes out throwing fire in the “The Chase.”, until it’s lasers and stutter-steps galore. Ty smears fucked-up drums and whining synthesizer into a big, angry mess, eventually collapsing into a pile of blips and beeps.
“Lake Language” finds Skytree getting all deep and contemplative, murky low ends and bending melody lines, all soaked in reverb and delay. On “Soy Candles,” Gord.ie takes bumping west-coast bass and shoves it into an industrial furnace, melting down and building it back up just enough to call it the Midwest’s own. “AbstractHipHop,” by Steve Dronez is essentially the same, except for the difference in which coast they’re taking from.
Still, the Deepblip collection just wouldn’t be complete without its tallest stars. And while solo cuts like Duktap’s “3DSorry” and Shadow Attack’s “Space Crump,” are nonetheless impressive, the album is at its most exciting when it finds the artists playing with each other’s songs. Brainfeeder’s remix of “Such Graffiti,” is arresting beat music bordering on the experimental. And when Freddy Todd steps in for his take on Shadow Attack’s “Gold,” make sure you remember to catch your breath before he’s done.
There is plenty of darkness buried in this collections’ beats; sinking and heavy darkness that you feel when you’re only at winter’s halfway point. But what Jeremy Judkins and the rest of the Deepblip Records crew has done is more astonishing than any melodrama or lingering cloud. This group of talented young masterminds from Michigan has managed to come together, as a label, to make a fantastic album that stands alone. Not as a promotional tool; not as a free street team hand-out; but as an album I could feel proud putting atop my top-5 electronic releases of the year. And we’re only at winter’s halfway point.
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