Grab bag of electronic-y stuff!
Billed as "dubstep and future dub", this Soul Jazz collection goes a long way to stretch that definition. As Americans, most of us are unfamiliar with UK dubstep as it was initially created, so something like the opening track, Digital Mystikz' 'I Wait', sounds more like an atmospheric reggae dub plate than something like the brostep that has become synonymous with the dubstep tag over here. There's a lot of spaced out sounds here and heavy basslines — that's kind of the point, I'd assume. There's an exclusive Burial track here —the shuffling two step of 'Unite'— that totally steals the show. But the whole thing is decidedly more dubby than I had anticipated. I can dig it. Key tracks: Burial's 'Unite', Skream's 'Sub Island' and Kode9's 'Magnetic City.'
Various artists — Box of Dub 2 (early 2000's)
Volume two presents more of the same with a cross section of UK dubstep. These Soul Jazz compilations obviously go a long way in trying to legitimize the sound and, as far as that goes, I'm sold. A few of the same names pop up from volume one, but overall, it does its best job to bring in some diversity by bringing up different folks. It's a very safe bet that if you dig one volume of these, you'll dig the other. Key tracks: Pinch's eerie 'Chamber Dub' and Skream's incredibly original house/dubstep hybrid 'Sublemonal.'
Aphex Twin — Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)
Two discs almost maxed out to 80 minutes a piece full of wonderfully pretty, weird and sometimes downright scary sounds. I'm no Aphex Twin scholar —I just spotted this in the Amoeba clearance bin for $2 and couldn't pass it up— but I do dig this quite a bit. It seems to start off very accessible and just get more and more challenging as it goes, with a few piecemeal accessible ditties thrown in for good measure. A lot of it has a sci-fi sort of melancholy to it; like you could put this on and play Metroid to it or something. Good stuff. Key tracks: I prefer the downright pretty stuff like 'Rhubarb', 'Hexagon' and 'Lichen' but those are hardly representative of the bigger picture.
Various artists — Riddim Box (early 2000's)
More Soul Jazz compilation action. This one was in the dubstep section at Amoeba, but it's more funky house than dubstep, I'd reckon. It's two discs and nineteen tracks, clocking in at almost two hours worth of dance grooves. It begins on a very high note with Altered Natives' odd time signature Hammond B-3 bouncer 'Rass Out.' Whoo, it gets me movin'! There are some vocal cuts here and I could take them or leave them — though, musically, I dig 'em just fine. Best among that lot would probably be Sunship featuring Warrior Queen's 'Almighty Father (Solid Groove's Underground Souljah Mix).' Overall, across the Box of Dub discs and this set, I have to say my mind is much more open to UK dubstep and funky house than I would initially have thought. Key tracks: Altered Natives' 'Rass Out', Kode9's 'Black Sun' and DVA's 'Natty.'
Seefeel — Quique (1993)
Almost ambient at times, almost minimal house at others, this two disc expanded edition of Seefeel's first album is a tasty blend of British musical trends of the early 90's. The one constant is a sense of creating dreamy atmospheres. It's like a whole album of My Bloody Valentine's 'Soon', but with less distortion (certainly no less swirling, however, as, if there's one word to describe this music, it is, without question, "swirling"). I guess it's seen as somewhat of pillar in the whole of the British dream pop scene. And with good reason, as there's little else that sounds quite like it. The second disc adds b-sides, outtakes and remixes, all worthwhile and definitely of interest. Key tracks: opener and near-perfect manifesto 'Climactic Phase 3' and the super trippy 'Charlotte's Mouth.'