Various Artists: Back and 4th (Hotflush Recordings)
Scuba’s Hotflush label highlights its vibrant history with this deluxe collection of 20 tracks both old and new. Although the label has most often been associated with dubstep, it’s never been shy about reaching out toward the sounds of garage, breakbeat or techno. Sepalcure kicks things off with a smooth post-garage jam, “Taking You Back,” full of looping vocal samples (including what sounds like the ghost of Black Box’s “Ride On Time” buried under a filter) and intricate drum programming. There are a handful of tracks that fall closely in line, including the up-tempo future R&B workout “Knew You Were The 1” by dBridge, Joy Orbison’s already classic “Hyph Mngo,” and Untold’s slick “Sweat.” The most unexpected treat is a heavy-handed soundtrack from FaltyDL, dark and brooding and cinematic. “Regret” begins with an orchestral drone before a wave of crashing drum fills brings it to a climax. As a contrast to these broken beat tracks, there’s a handful of nice steady techno bobbers, such as Boddika’s “Warehouse,” Scuba’s rave throwback “Feel It,” Sigha’s hypnotic and deep “Fold,” and George FitzGerald’s house crossover, “We Bilateral.” There’s plenty in between, too, surely something to please nearly everybody. Mount Kimbie squeeze in two tracks, their wonderful “Sketch On Glass” as well as James Blake’s ultra-weird take on “Maybes.” What’s satisfying about the variety, rather than distracting, is that the quality control is generally quite high, and despite the variety it holds together very well as a showcase of the label’s broad agenda. It’s also available at a very reasonable price as a good introduction to the label’s past, present and future.