Switched On – Various Artists: Shapes: Spectrum (Tru Thoughts)

What’s the story?

After 23 years there is something immensely reassuring about the annual appearance of the Tru Thoughts label showcase. The ‘Shapes’ series has always felt like a holiday present, containing as it does a huge amount of highlights and remixes, generously sourced and sequenced by label founder Robert Luis.

The Spectrum edition collects together 35 tracks that show off the depth and breadth of the music made on the label, from stalwart artists such as Quantic, Alice Russell and Anchorsong through to new sounds from Ebi Soda, Anushka and Tiawa. This time around there is an exclusive in the form of Divine Elevation, a new track from Think Tonk.

What’s the music like?

Thoroughly enjoyable – and ideally sequenced by the man who knows the music best. Robert Luis has a really good knack for ebb and flow, in this case keeping the musical temperature high as he moves between slower, smoky numbers and nippy remixes taking in drum ‘n’ bass.

Early highlights include Palm Skin Productions, providing a moment of calming magic with The Sword Will Die, a downtempo epic that develops unexpectedly sharp edges. Quantic provides a notable highlight with Nidia Góngora, and the richly scored Mucamba, while Alice Russell’s Heartbreaker has characteristically brilliant vocals but also a memorable trumpet contribution.

Luis is happy to include some really substantial mixes here, one of which is a dub cracker in the form of Sefi Zisling’s The Sky Sings, reworked by Obar Nenor. Meanwhile the sound of Afronaut channelling P-funk on How It Goes is very welcome.

Other highlights include the samba infused A Pomba Girou, from Zero dB via the remixing desk of Austin Ato, Rebecca Vasmant’s Dance Yourself Free which opens out beautifully, then the WheelUP remix of Tiawa’s Soldiers, an easy synth based groove. There is offbeat soulful goodness from MELONYX, then a lovely warmth to the STR4TA remix of Anushka’s Bad Weather, one of the choicest moments among the 35. The good vibes spread to the cool Again Again by Kuna Maze, the V.B. Kühl remix of sUb_modU’s Gravity and the hypnotic Daz-I-Kue remix of WheelUP’s Fusion, looping Bembe Segue’s vocal nicely.

Meanwhile the exclusive, Think Tonk’s Divine Elevation, cuts a sharp figure with its edgy breaks and serrated bassline.

Does it all work?

It does. Many label compilations have gone the way of the playlist, but Tru Thoughts have their presentation down to a tee, and this is an excellent and broad-minded selection of music. Not only that, there will be a vinyl release of selected tracks in October.

Is it recommended?

Definitely. Label devotees will snap it up, while those new to Tru Thoughts are in for a treat.

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