Various Artists ‘Modeselektion Vol 1’

Various Artists / ‘Modeselektion Vol 1’

CD / MP3

Monkeytown / Released November 8th 2010

It may come as something of a disappointment to to learn this release is, as yet, unavailable on vinyl. Although we’re talking about a compilation that has huge home-listening appeal, there’s no doubt a few copies on black plastic would have shifted.

Nevertheless, it’s an admirable idea, well conceived and executed. In short, Messrs Mode and Selektor- or Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary have invited a stunning roster of contemporary music makers and speaker shakers to contribute exclusive material. And the results are as impressive as the tracklist suggests.

Stepping breaks from SBTRKT sit next to Feadz’s The Assistant Manager, a bouncing house outing of low keyboard scales and whining melodies. Then The Good Star by Tadd Mulinix & Daniel Meteo takes things down a significantly dubbier downtempo path, before Robag Wruhme  offers up more symphonic moods, with the rather sublime, not to mention complex glitcher Bierholer. So by now it’s clear this is a compilation made up of artists concerned with more intelligent sides to bass music, driven by depth as much as shattered subs and broken bins.

Dubstep unsurprisingly sees good representation, most memorably in Ramadanman’s Pitter, an acidic peak-time builder that takes few prisoners by setting analogue chords and tribal percussion loose on the listener. But, ultimately, it comes down to one moment here, or rather five minutes and seven seconds, as Space Station Love Affair lives up to its name. Marrying warmth, and an upbeat energy that nods to early Daft Punk, DJ Sneak and Kevin Saunderson, with a particularly cosmic series of sequenced synths that act as both string harmony and stargazing hook. In short, it’s reason enough to invest.

There has arguably never been a period in the history of dance music lacking direction as much as today. A victim of its own diversity, with so much quality going unnoticed, and an ever-growing separation of the commercial arm from the scene’s grass roots, it’s often easy to spend time reflecting on by-gone days, and your experiences in simpler times, or those of elder friends and siblings. Then a diverse selection of cuts like this comes along, and make it clear that we could be looking back on our current climate quoting Charles Dickens. After all, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” never made so much sense.