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Various – 14 Tracks From Planet Mu review

Founded in 1995, initially as a subsidiary of Virgin before breaking off and going independent in 1998, Planet Mu has gone on to become an undisputed force in electronic music, setting the benchmark high and releasing some of the scene’s seminal and groundbreaking artists. Blending house, techno, dubstep, hip-hop and all the grey areas in between that have come to dominate the sonic landscape of recent years, as a label, Planet Mu have never been afraid to depart from the status quo. They brought us the first ever footwork compilation (Bangs & Works) towards the end of last year, which was met with widespread critical acclaim, an impressive feat considering the esoteric nature of the music. Marking the first release of 2011 for Mike Paradinas’ lauded label, 14 Tracks From Planet Mu collates tracks from some of the new artists to have graced the Mu airwaves over the past year. There’s four exclusives in there, for those that like it hot off the press, and some familiar names like Oriol, Solar Bears, Floating Points, FaltyDL, Ikonika and Boxcutter.

Kicking off with the aforementioned Oriol (of “Coconut Coast” fame) and his excellent entrée and first exclusive, “Sonar” – a gorgeous, pattering James Blake “CMYK” style venture – the album starts as it means to continue, bringing together eclectic sounds, a variety of reference points and a range of tempos and moods. Moving through the melancholy atmospheric ambience of Solar Bears’ “To Be With Her” (check out their She Was Coloured In LP if you haven’t already) to Floating Points’ “K&G Beat”, the opening section leads beautifully into the wistful murmuring of Tropics and The Internal Tulips. Boxcutter shakes things up with “Ufonik” – a preview track from his forthcoming album. Heavy synth-laden dubstep swaggering rhythms prevail in Starfox’s “Kuedo” before Topaz up the tempo with a bold, stomping dancefloor beat and then things get weird again with a Slugabed Did A remix of “Stars”.

Rossie B & Luca inject a good dose of fun into the proceedings with that iconic gurgling lurch of East London postcode referencing funky “E10 Riddim”. Tracks from Swindle and Ikonika’s infamous computer game bleeping “Dkdbtch” are sandwiched between this and the final track – “Hooray For Captain Balding” – which closes the album with a synth splattered vocal driven piece and humorous overtones. Sitting roughly somewhere between a ‘best of’ compilation from the past year and a showcase of the freshest new talent Mu has to offer, 14 Tracks… provides a panorama of the label’s contemporary landscape.

Belinda Rowse