v/a: 116 & Rising (Exclusives) (Hessle Audio)
Hessle Audio, the dubstep-plus label responsible for helping expose seminal contemporary electronic bass acts and fringe affiliates like Untold, TRG, James Blake, Joe, Ramadanman and more, has released a label showcase compilation available in multiple formats. The CD includes a disc of previously released tracks alongside a disc of exclusives, but you can also buy the exclusive tracks online as a standalone release. The latter is what I did, and so every track here is new to me. The rhythm and bass present on most of these tracks is fairly consistent, despite each artist lending his own flavor to it. Some are more substantial than others; as with most compilations, every once in a while there’s a track that feels more like a convenient cast-off rather than an exclusive gem. Pearson Sound’s “Stifle” is one such track, probably more effective as a DJ tool than as a standalone in my opinion. But there are more than a few handsome inclusions here, such as the bouncy spring of Untold’s “Cool Story Bro” or the slowed down, clattering syncopation of Joe’s “Twice.” Even better still is Randomer’s crisp, punchy percussion workout, “Brunk.” The only track that veers fairly far out of bounds is James Blake’s new take on “Give A Man A Rod,” which appeared in its original form on his The Bell Sketches EP. Elsewhere sounds are slightly more predictable DJ tools, like the repetition of Addison Groove’s “Fuk tha 101” or the bouyant “Runout” by Pangaea, but the variety and maneuvering between more percussive, syncopated clatter and smooth dancefloor jams makes it all work well as a representation of where the label’s been and where it’s going.