VA: King Deluxe Presents Year One
British Columbia-based King Deluxe has been carving out its own little niche in the electronic music firmament over the past year with a steady string of head-turning releases by figures like Fancy Mike, Alphabets Heaven, and Option Command. Anyone not yet hep to the label's forward-thinking fusion of glitch, IDM, and hip-hop should proceed directly to King Deluxe Presents Year One, as good a primer as could be imagined. To celebrate its first-year anniversary, the label has cherry-picked some previously issued standout tracks and augmented them with new interpretations by King Deluxe-associated artists. The result: one comes away from the release with an enhanced appreciation for the breadth and boldness of the label's vision.
King Deluxe Presents Year One is an almost ridiculously strong collection that follows one standout with another. From the head-spin of Muta's tribal-electro-funk makeover of Option Command's “Polybell Strategy,” for example, we move immediately onto the fidgety trance-house of Longwalkshortdock's unstoppable “You Berg (2999 Version).” Hints of jungle, drum'n'bass, and dubstep give the low-end breaks of ID's “Aether” a marvelous thrust, while Aleph's “Sulfozinum” presents a whirling dervish of proggy hip-hop. Seductive marriages of potent vocal melodies and glitch-hop breaks such as Alphabets Heaven's future-soul workout “Woman (Ghost Mutt Merix)” are as fresh as anything coming out of the Hotflush or Hyperdub stable.
Some provocative results come from the sequencing design, which finds the original followed by the interpretation. As a result, we're first presented with Fancy Mike's “Cartoon Pornography,” which smothers a crisp buckshot groove with synth atmospherics and vinyl crackle, and then get an acoustic jazz rendering by the Kingston Jazz Trio. The gloomy (dystopic, if you prefer) dubstep of El Haijn's “Out of the Unknown” sputters and writhes even more forebodingly in the Cubism Black Remix of same that follows. Vaetxh leavens the Aphex swizzle of “Mass” with a gently sparkling melody that Richard D. James would be proud to call his own, while Calvin Cardioid's “92% Analog” remix plays like the original's gleeful synth-pop sibling.
Echoes of other music sometimes surfaces in the tunes, though not to detrimental effect. “Galaxy Train 2999” by Milch of Source feat. EeL, for example, vaguely sounds like some mutant reimagining of the Bloodhound Gang's “The Bad Touch,” while DNA traces of Madonna's “Into The Groove” seem to bubble to the surface of the outfit's (now credited as Mitch Murder feat. EeL) heavily disco-fied “Galaxy Train 1989.” Listening to the great music on this collection, the phrase “an embarrassment of riches” comes to mind. Suffice it to say that the label's range has never been better captured than on this twenty-five-track release.