Various artists: Ouroboros – album review

Various artists – Ouroboros (Innovative Leisure)
DL / Ltd LP
Available now 

This album is a gem.

According to Wikipedia, the Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or a dragon eating its own tail. It is said to represent cyclicality in the sense of re-creating itself. I can go along with that – there’s nothing groundbreaking on this compilation, but, what is here is actually very, very good.

If you’re a fan of Faithless then this could well be a tonic for you in the wake of their retirement. There are clear influences from the camp of Maxi, Sister and Rollo here (with the exception of Jazz’s incisive rap), and, at times bits of early electronica resembling Depeche Mode, and maybe even a splash of Chemical Brothers.

Ten tracks from ten North American artists from several genres, all with a love for dance music. It’s a lovely collection and from the opening track it’s great listening.

For me, Speak Easy by Background Sound could have been lifted straight from Reverence or Sunday 8pm by Faithless. That incredibly danceable, feel-good beat that became an instantly recognisable sound. There’s a definite Depeche sound circa Speak & Spell/A Broken Frame with Sex Chat from Ghosts On Tape – a track that’s been around for almost 10 years, bordering on techno but steering clear from getting to the silly, throwaway ‘dance’ tracks we had in the ’80s and ’90s. The track Cloud Turtle uses slightly acid house sounds but with an updated feel, and, Machinedrum’s, Whatnot, again has that Faithless feel. Slightly hypnotic with a looped vocal sample and subtle guitars.

There’s a house leaning to En Route by Braille, but, done with a more up-to-date feel, and, Tomorrowland by Clicks & Whistles is a sparkling number, again with easy samples and a swirling synth making brilliant use of stereo speakers.

The track of the album comes in the shape of You & The Sky. I’m a bit of a sucker for a bit of dub, and this is a really interesting use of the art-form. Techno induced dance dub – it really is a cracker. Lazy, free and interestingly, reggae-less. Many artists claim to produce ‘dub mixes’ and they rarely are – instead opting for an instrumental, and, in my opinion doing dub a huge injustice. It’s nice to see Sweatson Klank make a track with obvious leanings in that direction and not actually make any claims.

The remaining tracks, Nightmare Cafe (Obey City), Gelatin Silver (Anenon) and Uppercut (Low Limit) continue in a similar vein – loosely connected by dance, but, varying sufficiently to make the album cohesive enough as a ‘project’ and a good compilation.

As the record label quote – “It’s ok to be unique, even while giving a nod to those before”. Well said.

You can find out more about Innovative Leisure recordings here and at their Twitter account here. They are also on Facebook here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. You can read more from Paul on LTW here.

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