Switched On – Two Synths, A Guitar (And) A Drum Machine (Soul Jazz Records)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Soul Jazz describe their new compilation as ‘a new collection of current D-I-Y post-punk bands shaped by the mutant sounds of no wave, punk funk and New York Noise bands from the late 70s and early 80s that collided with the world of underground dance music found at the Paradise Garage, Mudd Club in New York City’.

This also incorporates influences from the UK – Manchester and Sheffield along with a bit of London – and makes for an open musical policy leading to a wide range of beats and rhythms.

What’s the music like?

Invigorating. The collection has such a wide range but is impeccably laid out, so that a noise-heavy track like Toresch’s Tocar can be followed by the cool keyboards of Becker & Mukai’s La Rivière des Perles.

Soul Jazz have cast the net far and wide to come up with a selection of 15 tracks from around the globe, so while New York and the UK hold the key for source material, the ear can track just how far those influences have travelled.

It’s great to see an appearance for Zongamin, whose elastic Underwater Paramid is a more recent track from the long running band. It comes after one of the best vocals on the collection, the distinctive call to arms from LA band Automatic giving Too Much Money pride of place at the front of the compilation. Not all the vocals are as endearing as theirs – Ixna’s Somebody Said will be too shrill for some tastes!

Elsewhere Gramme hit the centre of the dancefloor with a great bass line on Discolovers – excellent vocal too – while New FriesLily and Charles Manier’s Sift Through Art Collecting People are propulsive propulsive groovers. Meanwhile Niagara explore dubbier territory with Ida, as does Black Deer’s Baseball Shorts, taking in even wider perspectives. Wino D expands the mind still further with the final Untitled, drifting away in a spacey cloud of atmospherics at the end.

Does it all work?

It does. Soul Jazz know more than most record labels how to make a good compilation, and the abundance of notes that goes with the music is the icing on the cake. For that reason – not to mention the eyecatching artwork – a physical purchase is the way to go.

Is it recommended?

Yes, enthusiastically. If your shelves already groan under the weight of Soul Jazz releases then you are advised to add a few hundred grams more to the mix. An excellent set of tunes that will introduce you to some new names.



You can hear clips from the compilation and purchase from the Soul Jazz shop, Sounds Of The Universe

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