Review : Various Artists - Night Slugs Allstars, Volume 1
PitchforkThe title here has to be just a little tongue-in-cheek: The Night Slugs label has only been around for about a year, and this compilation covers literally every artist who has recorded original material for it. One way to read it is that they're all stars-- corny, I know, but the label's releases have been noticeably consistent (or at least consistently interesting) since they started coming out in January, demonstrating a cross-section of UK dance music whose influences are all over the map: southern U.S. rap, London grime, a little bit of dubstep, Detroit techno, Dâm-Funk-style electro-funk, etc. Throwing proper nouns at this music is fun for genre wonks, but the reality is that the comp works well because it makes all that variety explicit.
Still, the marks that unify Night Slugs are as obvious to my ears as the ones that vary it. Most of the label's productions are colorful and brash, working not only through layers of sound but head-on collisions of them. If the music were generally less imaginative than it is, I'd say that the urgency and pride with which it all foregrounds its glitz borders on tasteless, but Night Slugs know to whom they're appealing, and it's not the folks thoughtfully nodding their heads in the corner. Some of the synths here are noxious enough to peel paint from the walls, and though the futurist crunk of Girl Unit's "Wut" is the only song to feature an actual airhorn, airhorns are implied throughout. There is exactly one track that could probably be described as "laid-back" here-- Jacques Greene's "(Baby I Don't Know) What You Want"-- and its runner-up is called "Booty Slammer".
Night Slugs' record covers-- all designed by co-founder and label contributor Bok Bok-- are always combinations of black and one or two other colors, presented in various shades. Usually, the image is geometric and semi-architectural (a suspension bridge and car; glowing pistons spelling out words), but presented ag ainst a completely black background in a way that makes them look iconic, like they're without space or landscape. I mention them because they're a strong analogue for the label's musical style: Not only do the bright colors sing in the darkness, but they're given a proper spectrum. In the same way the tracks remind me that there's a lot of range to be extracted from the seemingly monotonous blast of a rave synth, the covers remind me that hot pink can get as close to purple as it can to white-- range in places you might expect to be limited. Listen to this comp more than a few times and you'll probably start to hear chasms between stuff like Bok Bok & Cubic Zirconia's "Reclash (Dub)" and Girl Unit's ever-luxurious "Wut". The palettes are similar, but the ends to which they're used-- and the moods they evoke-- are different....full text
JunodownloadRookie label Night Slugs has had one hell of a year, accomplishing what most labels hope to achieve in a lifespan in its infancy. There’s been constant praise from media outlets such as Pitchfork, Fader, Xlr8r, Dazed and Fact, and they’ve been unwitting recipients of elephantine amounts of hype for each release from peers and fans alike, often months before they are available to purchase. Surely the greatest compliment to lay on the label overseen by Alex ‘Bok Bok’ Sushon and James ‘L-Vis 1990′ Connolly is that a standard of quality has been maintained in every single release this year that fully justifies that hype.
All Stars Vol. 1 is a highlight reel of what has made Night Slugs so groundbreaking, containing 13 tracks that showcase the label’s mutated UK funky, grime and post-dubstep mélange of sound. This much is evident from the opening gambit, Mosca’s “Square One (VIP)” which incorporates Baltimore club breaks, ragga-ish vocal sampling and some grimey synth squiggles without ever sounding crowded and over the top. It’s a high brow banger with streetwise sensibility, which is matched by Jam City, whose “Arp Jam” plays out with a twisted concoction of Detroit techno and cinematic grime.
An integral part of the Night Slugs success story has been the willingness to gather up some of North America’s best and most forward thinking producers such as Brooklyn’s Kingdom, who lends a Ballroom Diva inspired take on Dutch Bubblin’ in his contribution “Bust Broke”. Toronto’s Egyptrixx premieres a track taken from his upcoming Bible Eyes LP in “Liberation Front”, while Montreal producer Jacques Greene delivers a highlight amongst highlights with his much vaunted track “(Baby I Don’t Know) What You Want” – an utterly delicious amalgamation of sultry R&B and twilight house full of analogue synth warmth....full text
PhonicarecordsWhat some are calling label of the year, Night Slugs sensibly issue their first CD - a compilation of all their key tracks from 2010, and a few unreleased jems.
Initially a club night, Night Slugs has effortlessly spawned a label catering for the kind of lairy, no nonsense in yr face bass music that its young fanbase crave. Their output and innovation are maybe only matched by the likes of Ramp and Numbers. 2011 will be an interesting year in terms of where Dubstep and Bass music travel to, this label will probably be at the forefront. Watch yer bassbins!...full text
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