Review : Various Artists - Ninja Tune XX
PopmattersWe are conditioned to not expect much when an artist starts a label; so often the artist-driven record label is saddled with the negative connotation implied by a common descriptor: the “vanity” label. The idea, of course, is that the artist has various friends and acquaintances who haven’t been given a fair shake by the unforgiving and cruel record industry, and this is said artist’s chance in the wake of new-found fame and fortune to give those other artists a shot. Trent Reznor had one, Dave Matthews has one, Korn had one, Madonna had one, Eric Clapton had one, and on and on it goes. It’s the artist’s way of acknowledging that the universe doesn’t revolve entirely around them, even as they pull other artists into orbit.
Ninja Tune, an electronic/hip-hop/eclectic label founded by the duo known as Coldcut (Matt Black and Jonathan More), could be called a “vanity label”, but 20 years after its founding, labeling it with such a vaguely derogatory name seems utterly inappropriate. While Ninja Tune has certainly been the home of all of Coldcut’s releases since the label’s inception, this is a label that has grown into so much more than just “a band and its buddies”. Ninja Tune has proven itself to be one of the few labels out there who actually subscribe to and follow through on a concept: to seek out, publish, and promote artists that approach their art in original and inventive ways. This is why Ninja Tune has lasted this long, and this is why its stable of artists shows no sign of stagnancy or atrophy....full text
GuardianThis colossal compilation, also available as an even grander box set with a book and extra music on vinyl, celebrates two decades of Ninja Tune, the London-based label started by Coldcut in 1990. The emphasis is on new and future work, with little-knowns such as Eskmo and Offshore stealing thunder from the old brigade, while past glories are freshened up by the likes of Micachu, who electrifies Roots Manuva's "Dub Styles". For anyone who feels Ninja Tune has lost its edge of late, this is a compendious and compelling argument to the contrary....full text
IndependentAt the exact point in time when the hipster thing seemed dead and buried under the weight of one spoof song on YouTube, along comes this stunning “futurespective” from the UK label that spawned a thousand beards.
To celebrate Ninja Tune’s 20 years of head-noddingly cool hip-hop ambience, we get this four or six (depending on how obsessive you are) collection of new material that breaks (DJ Food), blips (Amon Tobin), booms (Roots Manuva) and bewitches (Lou Rhodes) in equal measure. The death of the cool is on hold....full text
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