VA: Label Sampler

Suburb's inaugural release SRL acts as a natural complement to the recent London Electrics Volume One collection, given that Suburb is one of six labels who contributed to it (Ai, Expanding, Highpoint Lowlife, Seed, and Uncharted Audio the others). There's also a common vibe—wide-ranging electronic experimentalism—which doesn't surprise either, given the presence on SRL of artists associated with those sister labels. Names like Blamstrain, Bovaflux, and Praveen will be familiar to Merck, Highpoint, and Neo Ouija fans, but SRL features new recruits like 11t1, Immovable Object, and Nameless too.

With fourteen cuts clocking in at just under seventy minutes (and many artists contributing a pair of tracks), there's ample material but the quality level generally remains high throughout (a few exceptions emerge: though the cartoon ragga of 11t1's “Frying Pan” provides levity and contrast, it sounds silly within this more sophisticated context). Immovable Object's ambient bookends “The Beginning” and “The Bright Place” are particularly lovely while Nameless ever-so-gently boosts the intensity in the dreamy electro-lounge of “Silver Leaf” and sculpts rain-swept atmosphere in “Just As Day Break Falls (Dub).” Off-kilter by comparison, Buddy Peace's episodic “Malt Water” seems hellbent on visiting the house of the rising sun while his “Sun Diesel [Loot Sale Edit]” pairs carousel piano melodies with slippery hip-hop beats. Other highlights include Bovaflux's soulful sparkler “DEA,” Praveen's lush electro-funk “Two Sides,” and Blamstrain's dramatic “Lumi.” Oddly enough, the machine 'face' on the fold-out sleeve's front cover appears to be smiling (gap-toothed though it might be)—an entirely apropos expression, given the caliber of musical contained within its embossed, clear plastic case.

March 2006