VA: Soul Jazz Singles 2006-2007
Soul Jazz

Soul Jazz Singles 2006-2007 compiles three discs (two of them straight tracks and the third a bonus mix assembled from the other albums' selections) featuring fresh 12-inch material issued recently by the UK-based imprint. Stylistically, the collection runs the gamut from reggae and dancehall to dubstep, electro-funk, and techno, with contributions coming from artists like Digital Mystikz, Skream, Matias Aguayo, Sutekh, Rekid, ESG, and more.

A number of the collection's peak moments are dubstep in character. Digital Mystikz' opener “Misty Winter” is dubstep at its purest with its prototypically mysterious Eastern flute, descending bass wobble, death-rattling percussion mix, and crushing beat pattern (the group's shuddering “Conference” is a solid addition to the collection too). Though it hardly conforms to the genre template (despite the presence of melodica), Kode 9's surging “Magnetic City” leaves as strong and hypnotic an impression as one would expect from the Hyperdub artist. Marrying a gleeful steamboat melody with a throbbing and highly-energized bottom-end, Skream's “Pass the Red Stripe” is a highlight too.

Other top picks include Rekid's “Retroactive,” a stomping slice of techno-funk sweetened by an electrified wah-wah trumpet part someone lifted from On the Corner, and Capracara's buoyant synth-kissed techno cut “Flashback 86.” Sutekh's “Kill the Monkey” (spastic techno that, at one point, suggests a monkey being tortured in a gas chamber), Private Lives' “Private Life” (pulsating synth-pop), and Matias Aguayo's “Lineas” (swinging Chilean techno-funk) deserve mention too. Cuts by Ladybug (featuring Warrior Queen) (the wild, stutter-funk dancehall of “Dem a Bomb We”), Tetine (the quirky electro-funk of “A Historia Da Garca”), and ESG (the bass-heavy, slinky soul-fest “Insane (Tambourine Mix)”) are decent too.

A shame, though, that some tracks are overlong and their impact thereby dissipated. At eight minutes, Capracara's acid-electro funk workout “Opal Rush” is twice as long as it needs to be, and it's not the only offender in that regard. Subway's locomotive “Satellites” (which borrows heavily from the Giorgio Moroder-Donna Summer classic “I Feel Love”) could also lose a third of its nearly nine-minute length (in fairness, Subway's “Delta,” “Persuasion,” and “44110” are solid), and Soul 223's laid-back “Q” starts to verge on filler a few minutes in. Though its sparkle is certainly appealing, Tetine's ten-minute “Slum Dunk” could be half the length, and a similar complaint can be levied against Soul 223's “In Search Of Slowly” and JBP's “Aphrotalk.” Such stretching out probably comes off better when the cuts are experienced as pairs in a 12-inch form but, when assembled into a 150-minute collection, they feel drawn out.

December 2007