VA: Microsolutions #1
Soul Jazz Records

Celebrating two years of releases, Microsolutions to Megaproblems, Soul Jazz Records' subsidiary electronic label, collects fifteen tracks (many of them previously issued on 12-inch) by some of today's premiere electronic artists onto the 76-minute disc Microsolutions #1 (clearly portending the release of future volumes). Though Soul Jazz operates out of the UK , many of the participants are based in America with Kit Clayton, Kid 606, Telefon Tel Aviv, and Sutekh joining West-coast compadres Daedelus and Ammoncontact as well as UK contributors Rekid, Secondo, A.Greenman, and Tim Exile.

A dubby strain runs through a good portion of the material. Clayton's two tracks cruise in a dub-funk style (though “Humbaba” abruptly shifts to schaffel halfway through), as does A.Greenman's handclapping “Discoèthique”; Kid606 also drops two dubby tracks, the stomping “Batmen” and the appropriately slippery “Banana Peel.” Elsewhere, Rekid's “Tranzit” weighs in with a bass-driven stomp of crackle, vocal whoops, and environmental noise, while Tim Exile squirts synth squiggles over the sunny tech-house of “Body Ginger.” A clubbier feel permeates Secondo's electro-disco “We Got It 303” and A.Greenman's dreamy electro-shuffle “Sunday Love of Kind.”

There are surprises and oddities too. Telefon Tel Aviv contributes a 'Last Supper Mix' of Ammoncontact's “Bbq Plate” that seems to curiously split the song in two: the dubbed-out 'laptop soul' in the first half is quintessential TTA while the impassioned attack in the second sounds, frankly, like neither group. Smyglyssna takes the lumbering bass-crawl of Ammoncontact's “On Bellflower” on a tour through the local arcade, and Daedelus's predictably eccentric treatment of Hu Vibrational's “Sunkissed” opens with a conversation sample between an old man and a child before turning into a nimble jazz-house romp. While it's all good enough, best of all are Sutekh's tracks, each of which amply showcases his unique imagination and inventiveness. The whirring hiccup of “Boulez' Toes” is certainly memorable but the sound of sliced voices merging with chopped stutter-funk beats in “Mouth Party” impresses even more.

August 2005