Dusted Reviews

V/A - Think and Change

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: V/A

Album: Think and Change

Label: Nonplus

Review date: Mar. 11, 2013

Now that we have one, it’s surprising in retrospect that U.K. bass music hasn’t had a flagship record called Think and Change sooner, considering how much of both the scene has done over the past four years or so. That Boddika’s Nonplus Records should be its home is fitting; few people have embraced artists and sounds suited for thinkpieces and ripe for shapeshifting quite like Alex Green. Along with Damon Kirkham, Green founded Nonplus both as the realization of a shared dream and as a space to put out convention-defying electronic music of a strain akin to what the two of them were doing with drum n’ bass under Instra:mental. The first release, a 12” split that had dBridge’s instantly memorable “Wonder Where” on the a-side, was a hit. They’ve rarely put a foot wrong since.

So it continues on Think and Change, a five-piece vinyl box set (with a couple of samplers already out) that features some of the mo(ve)ment’s most essential players. While prominent label alumni like Actress, Skream and Skudge don’t appear on this outing, heavy-hitters like Hotflush big cheese Paul Rose under his SCB name, Hessle Audio’s Pearson Sound, and Four Tet all jump on board for a stirring account of the state of bass music.

For more on that, Rose’s “Dissipate” is an alarming, subwoofer-shaking techno track indebted to high revs and higher anxiety. Pearson Sound’s “Quivver” isn’t brand new (having recently floated in and out of the Hessle camp’s sets and mixes), but its sharp synth arpeggios and constantly shifting percussion, similar in many ways to “Clutch,” marks this as the undeniable work of David Kennedy. Four Tet’s “For These Times” also bears many of its maker’s hallmarks, from the prominent vocal samples to the familiar midtempo BPM to the snares he’s been leaning on since There is Love in You.

What lies beyond the big names, however, is where this compilation really leaves its mark. There is Endian’s deeply moving house on “Straight Intention,” Lowtec’s cabaret keyboard noodling on “The Rhythm,” and Martyn’s charming, inclusive closer “Bad Chicago.” There’s Kassem Mosse on top form (as always) with two generous offerings in “Broken Patterns” and “IP Mirrors.” There’s an old Instra:mental & dBridge track, “White Snares,” that looked like it might never see the light of day, but I’m glad it did — to have the label’s first artists appear on this compilation is a nice nod to where Nonplus came from.

And there is, of course, Joy Orbison. As in the course of most human events, a word should be saved here separately for Peter O’Grady, the man who has gone from game-changer (2009’s “Hyph Mngo”) to game-changer (2010’s “Sicko Cell”) to game-changer (2011’s “Ellipsis”) to game-changer (2012’s SunkLo triptych). It’s hard to put it better than Brad LaBonte did at the end of last year in characterizing Joy O’s work with Boddika specifically – “they’ve already moved on.” Bingo. Evidence on Think and Change comes in the form of a “Boddika VIP” version of one of his most recognizable collaborations with Joy O, “Mercy.” “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – TIP!,” an homage to Hardwax employees honing their one-liner game, finally receives an official release. “&Fate” is the freshest star of the show, a new collaboration with Boddika that strikes a balance between Joy O’s ebullient, increasingly recognizable house side and his and Boddika’s leering, amorphous side. Naturally, it fits right in with the rest of their work.

What I love about Think and Change is that it’s a compilation that delivers from front to back, successfully highlighting the peripatetic nature of U.K. bass music with a veritable embarrassment of riches. What I don’t love about it (and what I find so strange) is how it doesn’t accurately reflect the democratic nature of dance music right now for the people behind the decks rather than just in front of them. The barrier to enjoying this stuff is pretty low — why is it, then, that practically everyone on this compilation is white, and none are female? I don’t mean to lay the blame entirely at Boddika’s door, but if this is the best representation yet of the excitingly infinite possibility this music represents, it’s also a worrying look at gender and race and, most pointedly, the best example yet of what still needs to change. In so many ways, this is a compilation worth more than just thinking about.

By Patrick Masterson

Read More

View all articles by Patrick Masterson

Find out more about Nonplus

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.