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Various Artists – Night Slugs All Stars Vol. 1 review

Rookie label Night Slugs has had one hell of a year, accomplishing what most labels hope to achieve in a lifespan in its infancy. There’s been constant praise from media outlets such as Pitchfork, Fader, Xlr8r, Dazed and Fact, and they’ve been unwitting recipients of elephantine amounts of hype for each release from peers and fans alike, often months before they are available to purchase. Surely the greatest compliment to lay on the label overseen by Alex ‘Bok Bok’ Sushon and James ‘L-Vis 1990’ Connolly is that a standard of quality has been maintained in every single release this year that fully justifies that hype.

All Stars Vol. 1 is a highlight reel of what has made Night Slugs so groundbreaking, containing 13 tracks that showcase the label’s mutated UK funky, grime and post-dubstep mélange of sound. This much is evident from the opening gambit, Mosca’s “Square One (VIP)” which incorporates Baltimore club breaks, ragga-ish vocal sampling and some grimey synth squiggles without ever sounding crowded and over the top. It’s a high brow banger with streetwise sensibility, which is matched by Jam City, whose “Arp Jam” plays out with a twisted concoction of Detroit techno and cinematic grime.

An integral part of the Night Slugs success story has been the willingness to gather up some of North America’s best and most forward thinking producers such as Brooklyn’s Kingdom, who lends a Ballroom Diva inspired take on Dutch Bubblin’ in his contribution “Bust Broke”. Toronto’s Egyptrixx premieres a track taken from his upcoming Bible Eyes LP in “Liberation Front”, while Montreal producer Jacques Greene delivers a highlight amongst highlights with his much vaunted track “(Baby I Don’t Know) What You Want” – an utterly delicious amalgamation of sultry R&B and twilight house full of analogue synth warmth.

Whilst this compilation is not comprised of 100 per cent exclusives, those previously available tracks included have been remastered and definitely benefit sonically. It’s fitting that proceedings should end on Girl Unit’s “Wut”, proclaimed by so many as the definitive track of 2010, with an overwhelming sense of anticipation for what Night Slugs might achieve next year as the track’s lazered radiance peaks.

Markus Garcia