In June of 2010, Gilles Peterson’s mighty Brownswood collective (specifically Peterson’s assistant Alex Stevenson) hand-picked artists to form a compilation that represented the multi-dimensional, kaledescopic landscape of the label’s musical interests. A tight, bright roundup of bass music at that sliver of time, ‘Brownswood Electr*c’ bred a new wave of producers and paved the way for a new sound, capturing the beats and personalities of then-up-and-comers (now game-changers) George Fitzgerald, Mount Kimbie, Mosca, Rockwell and Pearson Sound, among many others. The collection found fans in DJ Mag (nominating it for their ‘Best of British’ Awards that year), Martyn and Hemlock’s Untold, who aptly summed it up: “It’s a really spot-on snapshot of the grey area of “dance” music that keeps getting messier.”
Messy or delightful chaos (your choice), the grey area hidden between the frayed splinterings of microgenres is perhaps where the most unexpected colours form. It’s where imaginations are freed, and artistic expression lies abound: no confines, no uncomfortable boxes to tick nor adjectives to hold on to. Taking in the relentlessly malleable state of electronic music of late, what’s considered ‘future’ today may very well be tagged ‘post’ within a handful of months. The naysayers and genre-enthusiasts may argue otherwise, but to Mr. Peterson and his Brownswood family, the music world couldn’t be in a more fruitful and exciting place as a result.
Sound system culture moves so fast. Forging onwards, but simultaneously zig-zagging through its past, picking up sonic references which appear as quickly as they disappear. With the ‘Brownswood Electr*c’ series we’re simply attempting to highlight the depth and breadth of the electronic space…and the exceptional quality within.
‘Brownswood Electr*c 2’ stands tall as a wisened lesson in subjectivity and experimentalism, taking in a new league of artists that revel in sonic possibilities within the low-end territory. Between the 14 producers, with ideas that cross continents (UK, USA, Germany, Australia, Japan) as much as genre boundaries, the variety is pristine and entirely unpredictable. Joy-laden 8-bit dreamworlds (mfp – ‘Future Hopes’) are met with emotive 2-step swings and detailed walls of sound (Jack Dixon – ‘By My Side’), and tearing drum workouts lined with echoey chambers (DJG – ‘Automatic’) storm up alongside the toughly beautiful rhythms of Monky. Perth’s Ta-ku leans on call-and-response chants to fuel his heavy bounce on the enthusiastic headnodder ‘Hey Kids,’ whereas Synkro & Indigo dive deep into soul-searching with their tight, mesmeric roller ‘Knowing You,’ and DJ Dials’ ‘Pillowforts’ is a heartbreakingly sublime encounter with arpeggios. Beastly pitch-bent complexity (HxdB – ‘Savage Pets’), meanwhile, contrastingly bumps up against ethereal atmospheric escapes that serve as a lesson in simplicity (Jus Wan – ‘Miles Away’). With sounds flitting across a wide spectrum, the underlying theme that cohesively ties them all together is innovation.
01 Ta-ku – Hey Kids
02 Monky – Drunkerdz
03 Anenon – Shifts
04 DJG – Automatic
05 Frederic Robinson – Mood Swings
06 Synkro & Indigo – Knowing You
07 mfp – Future Hopes
08 Jus Wan – Miles Away
09 DJ Dials – Pillowforts
10 Funk Ethics – Step In
11 Jack Dixon – By My Side
12 HxdB – Savage Pets
13 Stray – Break Your Legs
14 AEED – Under The Alps