Various Artists ‘Mosaic Vol 1 (Exit Records)’

Various Artists /  ‘Mosaic Vol 1’

CD / Digital

Exit Records / Released January 31st 2011

When is drum n bass not a skanking workout? Well, how about when it sounds like this.

The question shouldn’t really be “are some of these tunes dnb?” If you focus your attention on the quandary “what is drum n bass in 2011?” then you get a better idea of what everyone should be asking right now. It’s many things to many people, just look at the likes of Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister,  LTJ Bukem, or any of the artists on here.

And such is the overall message behind each and every one of these tracks. Commix deliver a slice of dream-like breaks that’s light even by their standards, while still retaining the hallmarks of a sound that’s often a world away from relaxing. And, in response, Consequence drops the kind of menacing, spooky vibes that could signify the darkest of darkness. But again, futurism and suspense are favoured, as oppose to filth and fury. It’s the same story with sci-fi inspired downtempo contributions from Scuba and label boss dBridge, which is by no means a bad thing

Elsewhere Skream brings on more of a dancefloor style with Motorway, a stripped piece of mechanical music that bumbles, steps and haunts its way through a five-minute journey to nowhere. Then, just when the junglists thought it was time to turn the page, along comes Loxy & Resounds Vertigo, topped with tin drum percussion, underpinned by the kind of bass subs were built for, and complemented by some seriously old skool, occasional vocals.

Other notable inclusions come in the form of Skeptikal’s sparse-but-drum-heavy builder, Another World, the desolate, hoover-driven groove of Further Searching by Genotype, and the onslaught permanently threatened but never executed by Abstract Elements’ Essence of Time. And all that’s without mentioning Instra:mental’s analogue outing, or Code 3’s accomplished submersible effort. These two sprawling CDs offer as much of an insight into tomorrow’s music, today, as they do showcase a series of studio experiments. It all nods to this compilation’s compelling argument that, just because the raucous noise of the mainstream is so loud at the moment, there isn’t still the same level of innovation going on beneath.