Various Artists – Crosstown Rebels presents Spirits III (Crosstown Rebels)
reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
In the press release for the latest instalment of their Spirits compilation, Crosstown Rebels founder Damian Lazarus explains why the series has become so important to him. He sees it as ‘a very important annual mission in which my focus is to uncover some of the most exciting new underground music and piece it together in a way that makes a statement for the label. In discovering new artists and putting them side by side with established people we are setting new agendas for sound and for the future. These are battle weapons, freshly unearthed anthems, deep experiments and awakenings’.
What’s the music like?
Very much in keeping with the press release. There are several striking cuts here, and as Lazarus says it’s a very healthy blend of the known names and new ones. Not surprisingly the known names includes Lazarus himself, and his Ergot starts proceedings with a deep track whose riff almost slips down the back of the music.
Elsewhere the chunky beats and bass of Denney and James Dexter’s Transcend are a hit, as is the brooding Creatures Of The Night from Aiwaska with Jimmy Wit an H. Arguably the most distinctive and memorable track comes from Cipy and Knowkontrol, whose Newark has a really good falsetto vocal as its main hook. Dennis Cruz gives a nice trumpet imitation of an elephant to add a bit of humourous deep jazz to Mother Earth, while Harry Romero reinforces his reputation for fine house music with the excellent It’s You, a kind of mini chant that really gets going over bleeps and a nippy beat. The tempo drops a bit for Eli & Fur at the end, their collaboration with Brothertiger She’s Just A Wanderer a loping piece of dub-house that works really well.
Does it all work?
Yes. It’s well laid out and delivered, and does exactly what a fan of Crosstown Rebels would want it to do.
Is it recommended?
Yes, for the above reasons! House music is the main name of the game here, but Damian Lazarus has put together a really good set of forward facing Spirits that deserve to be heard.
You can buy the compilation from the Phonica Records website here