09 September 2009


BBC Radio 1 host of the cult “Experimental” show (formerly known as Breezeblock), a DJ, and motorcycle enthusiast Mary Anne Hobbs is back with her third compilation, following 'Evangeline' released June 2008 and a debut for the label 'Warrior Dubz' in October 2006. 'Wild Angels' was released on 8th of September 2009 in US on Planet Mu

As can be expected from the lady extremely versed in new music, constantly on the fringes of future beat of the scene, M.A.H. interests and search for quality experimental stuff has expanded to reach out as far as the West Coast of U.S. and the electronic music (r)evolution currently taking place there. Although being mainly associated with dubstep/grimey scene, this time Mary Anne Hobbs offers a compilation of groundbreaking electronica focusing more on future hip-hop beats, crispy neon synths and acquacrunk melodies, going much beyond the restraints of one music genre. To regular listeners of her show this would come as no surprise.

“Wild Angels” encompass a broad spectrum of bass music ranging from wonky Bristol / Glasgow sound (e.g. Gemmy, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke, Mike Slott, Starkey and a few others) through thriving West Coast IDM / glitch scene (Mono/Poly, Nosaj Thing, Teebs, Architeq) to unrestrained mind-bending electronic voyages into weird neural structures (Mark Prichards in the drone of the year!) or music which escapes easy generalizations (e.g. Floating Points, electro-acoustic Sunken Foal, Legion of Two). You won’t find pure dubstep - whatever this term means nowadays - or grime here.

In M.A.H. new compilation the majority of slots are taken by wonky / acquacrunk / neon trips and most of them actually need no introduction, and they are among my favorite productions this year.
Starkey’s Gutter Music V.I.P. from groundbreaking Ephemeral Exhibits always enchants me with its dysfunctional yet totally infectious synths and weird beat. A real beauty and the beast! If you say Starkey, the chances are Rustie will emerge soon. Zig-Zag’s distorted melodies are quintessential Lucky Me material and I strongly encourage you to check this man’s Bad Science EP. Next highlight of “Wild Angels” is Spotted in which another representative of Lucky Me, Hudson Mohawke bathes acquacrunk post hip-hop beats in neon synth solos, light, warm and helping to nod your head vigorously to beautiful, laidback vibe. Mike Slott in Knock Knock crafts a very delicate sound texture for sunny Sunday afternoon walks in the park as if playing on the piano built of glass beads.

Moving to Bristol, one simply has to mention Gemmy, next to Joker, most prominent representative of the so-called “Purple Wow” sound. His Rainbow Road pulsates with fresh energy, vivacity and proper bass. It is soaked with great lazer synths, extremely infectious melody line and broken 4x4 beat making it an instant hit and the tip of the entire compilation. I am really impressed with his ultra tight production skills. Hyetal and Tranqill both work quite skillfully with spacious sound textures in smoothly flowing tunes designed for chill-out zones. Urban sound producer and remixer from London, Brackles, delivers stomping 2-step beats with synth bravado (again! Synths are the trademark of this compilation) and Kosheen’s samples in the background. Very solid track.

West Coast sound is represented by the producers heavily promoted by Mary Anne Hobbs on her show in West Coast Rocks / Pacific Clash series. The most prominent of them is of course
Nosaj Thing. I absolutely love every piece of music produced by Jason Chung, his Drift album is this year’s best release in my private ranking. IOIO is the quintessential IDM of the future, the track whose dreamy aesthetics and liquid, smooth synths melt me inside like a snowball in a Sahara heat. Teebs in his exclusive track, WLTA, takes the listener for a trip to laidback ocean of pleasant melody and groovy beat. Another big name on my US list, Mono/Poly, attacks the listener with bass heavy sonic missile and glitched to the max synths and distorted beats. This tune stands in relative opposition to neon synths of Lucky Me crew. Raw energy, cut-up bleeps and beeps, post hip-hop beats and occasional acapellas are the characteristics of producers hailing from Pacific Coast of US, just to mention Lazer Sword, Daedalus, Samiyam or Exile (some of them associated with fantastic Flying Lotus’ label Brainfeeder). TAKE’s remix of Secret Bear Lament by Architeq follows the same pattern with multi-layered composition full of delayed and distorted vocals, glitched synths and pulsating bassline. I LOVE WEST COAST SOUND!!

Finally, a few ‘head case’ tunes. Starting from absolutely fantastic intro drone by
Mark Pritchard called “?”. The frequency of this little gem reminds me strongly of productions created as a music guide in trips induced by some potent hallucinogenic plants like DMT or psilocybin (if you like it I suggest checking the self titled EP of Time Machines, better known as Coil). Live music duo from Ireleand, Legion Of Two, evokes dark horror images in one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. The combination of live drums and absolutely mesmerizing synths along with hellish bassline make me greet my teeth nervously and look at my co-slaves with wolfish eye. I remember the first time I heard LoT on MAH show. I thought, WTF? I was pressed into my chair by the irresistible wall of dark sound and was immediately transported into the realm of gothic knights fighting with horrible monsters (pardon my ‘gamer’ imagination). What a great way to end this fantastic compilation! I have to mention another great tune from Ireland. Electroacoustic band Sunken Foal in Of Low Count and Light Pocket has won me over with beautiful and powerful vocals, classic string guitars but most of all moog-like crispy synths reminding me of a score to independent French movies of the 70’s.

'Wild Angels' is a personal selection done by Mary Anne Hobbs, and any avid listener of electronic music would obviously have a slightly different view about what is missing or what should not be included here. But in my opinion she managed quite well to capture the ‘spirit’ of the current bass electronic scene offering quite a diverse and broad spectrum of most interesting producers exploring various territories. All in all one of the best releases this year.

Easy 8 out of 10*****

Lucky Americans, Mary Anne Hobbs starts the tour of U.S. this Thursday. You shouldn't miss her!


Thursday, September 10 Smartbar (DubFix Party) – Chicago, IL
Friday, September 11 103 Harriet St, (Get Freaky Afterburn Party) – San Francisco, CA
Saturday, September 12 The Cellar at Agenda – San Jose, CA
Wednesday, September 16 Holocene – Portland, OR
Friday, September 18 Love (Dub War Party) w/Pinch – New York, NY
Saturday, September 19 Shadow Lounge (SubDivision Party) – Pittsburgh, PA
Sunday, September 20 Barcelona (Mad Classy Party) – Austin, TX
Wednesday, September 23 Low End Theory – Los Angeles, CA
Friday, September, 25 Cervantes (Bass Invasion Party) w/Skream – Denver, CO
Saturday, September, 26 Decibel Festival – Seattle, WA