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Various Artists - 6 Years of Bolting Bits (Bolting Bits, 2020)

Everyone's favourite online musical presence celebrates 6 years of delighting listeners with their brilliant debut compilation, that features old friends and future stars.

The internet changed the way music is consumed by people, amongst the general paradigm shift in the way that it changed humanity. Before, musical intake was reserved into categories such as the radio and tv, where causal listeners got to know the stars of the time and consumed at will 45'' in order to make the latest singer a smash hit; or, for those who perhaps felt compelled to dig a bit deeper, looked to the record shops or the clubs to cure their itch for ever deeper journeys into the depths of comprehension and musical enrichment. Now, the world is very different. The concept of physical formats flew out the window for a while, as the internet became the number one source for getting to know music just a little bit better. Now, not only could people stream to their hearts content, but it lead to all kinds of musical doors opening up to people that before seemed completely out of reach. It has forged new relationships, built scenes, created unusual pairings but wonderful results, but certainly does come with some negative side effects. But to focus on the positives, there have been ways in which groups and individuals have used the internet to channel their passions into pages where they are able to share and appreciate tunes, old and new, and invite whoever is interested to engage with it to come along for the ride. Via Youtube and Soundcloud, and through various blogs, we have seen channels and labels express themselves through the medium of sharing, skimming through countless releases to highlight those that identify with their musical outlooks and taste. The number of pages on youtube that focus on one of the many facets of dance music alone is almost immeasurable, with new pages cropping up every day to satisfy our constant lust for all things good and smooth. For anyone who had a slight inkling in dance music from 2010 onwards, these pages became the new benchmark, the virtual record shop, the virtual club, where new content was thrown out daily, and for those who didn't know a lot, these pages became like mini bibles, a place where if you understood the vibe of 5 videos, you were hooked for life. These pages became important because they always had a value to the music they promoted; it wasn't like they released tracks that didn't align with their musical tastes, it was always about sharing music they cared about, promoting artists they had respect for, and in turn, nurturing a community of followers, opening doors, and sparking new passions in many a listener for music. Identity within music is something everyone yearns for, to connect with a genre or scene. Now, there were opportunities to connect with like minds all over the world, moving to the vibe of the same beat, the same chords, the same atmosphere.

Out of the many, many youtube channels that offer this kind of musical world to explore, Bolting Bits remains one of the most respected and admired within its field. Perhaps it is the fact that the collective, founded by Florent Tarroux and Sarah-Marie in Montreal, began life as a publication, serving the city with musical musings and promoting the music that they loved. Since then, the collective have released over 650 premieres on their channel, and have helped to launch many producers careers in the process, with thousands of subscribers constantly fawning over the quality and diversity of their content. Their channel has always been a hallmark for the high quality, a slightly different flavour delivered every time but there is always the feeling that it is going to be good. This writer spent many hours listening to Bolting Bits content, always comforted by the knowledge that each new track would be as excellent as the last. This kind of curation only stems from the ideology of the people behind the collective; thoughtful, caring, taking the time to consider musical content and indeed how releases feed back into the overall 'discography', so to speak. Its a testament to the founders that they have remained as important today as they have since their inception, with their genre selection fluidly moving through the realms of all things housey, broken beat, jazz tinged melodic beauties, techno-esq burners, and almost everything else inbetween. The far flung reaches of dance music never felt so alive and together, like a series of marvellous visual experiences that never seen to end, its all fantastic. If you haven't checked out their channel yet, its high time you do so, you will discover something wonderful, I can guarantee.

So the time seems right to celebrate their 6th birthday with a compilation album, that celebrates the artists who the label befriended over the years as much as the identity of the label itself. Throughout the record, we are constantly reminded why people are so drawn in by the music, the consistent excellence and variety from the talent on board makes for a listen that is as complete and rewarding as listening to their latest upload. It threads together through a collective will, a spectrum of sound curated and delightfully collated to a T, a celebration of the music and its character, life blood and essence. So lets take a dip.

Up first comes Aleksandir, a name many are now familiar with, and his contribution, 'Yucca'. Aleksandir is well known for his low slung, emotively in touch, soft yet pulsating take on house, and this one is no different. The beat rings very true, keeping everything else in check, before the pads are allowed to join in. It's all very subtle, the build up allowing for the numerous emotional areas to be filled to the brim, the synths floating through the elements like the gentle breeze in the evening. The flute key line adds a new dimension, as the transitions between arrangements keep the track moving. The drums give way, allowing for the keys to flex their collective muscles, as they move through the motions, caressing us all with their warm embrace. It all goes quiet, but then it all swings back in, the stabbing jazz chords interlaced effortlessly with the floating pads. It provides that kind of two halved experience that works so well when executed correctly, and Aleksandir, like always, pulls it off flawlessly. Next comes JLMT with their track 'Kaja Woondy', and the vibe goes all South London on us. The broken beat is split even further, with consistent percussive elements holding it all together, in the most engaging and constantly shifting way imaginable. All the while, in the backdrop we sense the presence of the pads, beautifully moving between chords, and providing a real sense of depth. The contrast between the simmering beats and the soft chords, and the rhythmically on point bass line, is an audial delight, really worming its way into the ears without a care. The interludes where the focus draws to the silky key lines is a great touch, providing moments where the intensity recedes ever so slightly, moving in the breaks with maximum impact. Next comes Igor B with their track 'Torre Normanna', and the positive vibes just keep on flowing. The drumming patterns and the chords begin in tandem, setting the scene for what is going to be maximum emotional impact. The drums add more to their armoury, as the track continues on its wishful journey, the chord progression staying strong as blissed out sequences come in via the back door. The track has this wonderful laid back ness to it, like a slowly unravelling flower in bloom, it takes its time until it can take in the maximum amount of sunlight for the day. For all its build up, the melodic elements pull away to allow the track to take a deep breath, it ain't quite finished yet. Before you know it, it comes back into it, the progressions pulled back into the fold, as the diving synths and shallow bass lines exude dynamism and prowess. Next comes the pairing of 2XM & Sandboards with their track 'Equinox', and the scene is set right from the off. The chord lines, LFO filters abounding, go through the motions beautifully, setting up a scene that leaves us pondering what might come next. And what happens next is quite glorious, the beat a wonderful steppa that hits hard and true, the balance between the engulfing synths and the high octane beat hard to ignore and impossible not to bop along too. The track fills you with the warmth that only the pairing of melodic synth lines and steppa garage beats can conjure up, that kind of progression and drive that invites you in with all its got, the whirlwind tone injecting us with every drop of satisfaction and feel good vibes. A stunner

Next comes Forte with his track, 'Platform', and it comes across in true Forte fashion. His Intermissions LP was an Endless Grooves favourite last year, and the vibes we find here are no different to the excellent found within that record. The harmonic melodies, interlayed between little lines and pads, are as ever extremely on point, their constant reshuffling still so very impressive. The beat work blends between the fluid and the structured, the two elements working in tandem to create a track filled with ever changing musical textures. The part when the keys that signal the intro fall away to reveal the innards of the drum work is fantastic, every beat and percussive elements allowed to stand out and sing to one another. The track seems to break itself down then build up, with the pieces moving in and around each other in ways that simply mesmerise, another one to add to Forte's unreal collection of tracks. Next comes OUER with their track, 'Don't Panic'. The drums cue the intro, straight up live vibes, out swinging right from the off, as the cosmic forces slink into view from the horizon line. The chord line strikes through right in the middle, and what begins off as a passive emotional tool evolves, with the help of its friends, into a powerful series of overlapping sequences, creating a tidal wave of emotionally charged moments. It cuts right through, but in the best way possible, an ever morphing presence that is content to show its true colours as the track continues its quest. Sheer Bliss. Next comes IFF with their track 'Kingmoonracer', and the mood shifts deep into the club. Whilst the previous tracks all had this kind of emotional kick that can only be found when walking around the city, this one firmly places the context in the deep part of the set, where fevers run high and bodies move. The tempo ups the ante, the kicks striking true and fast, the focus moving towards the percussive elements enormously. The little bleeps underpin the progressiveness, providing the melodic elements that propel the track forward through time and space. The minimal nature of the tune allows for maximum impact, creating the sense of urgency that we crave when the energy levels hit the roof. Next comes Jad & The, with his track 'Phase Phantasy 5'. Jad has become a very familiar face within the deep house scene, and for good reason, which this track will testify. The track begins all aquatic, the fliters drums and keys add together to create intrigue, intrigue that certainly lasts as the swing comes into play. Combining deep set drumming styles, with added hi hats and kicks to really double down, the groove combines with the jazzy chords on top to create an unreal sense of urgency. The intro utilises the complex arrangements to maximum impact, before moving into clearer waters, the chords given a real chance to shine as the track moves through the motions with a smoothness that needs to be mastered before it can be pulled off. Jad does it with some style, a track that gives off all the textural qualities and driving enthusiasm that you could want with a singular track.

Romain FX is next with their track 'Summer Swell', and the vibe moves to new realms. The drum patterns are wide and spacious, the little percussive line on top giving over a sense of a track going places, before the powerful bass line slides into view. Giving all the proto feels in the world, the track descends into the stabs and the vocal sample, setting the scene, before hitting real hard as it comes back into play. The combination of elements is intoxicating, a sublime collection layers that work so well together, the key work that follows, diving down deep, is another thing to marvel at. The movements between the fullness to the more spacious keeps the track perpetually moving towards greatness. Next comes Maquis Son Sistem with their track 'Aurorae', and we push further into the realms of key exploration. The dubby bass line lurks way underneath, as the ever relentless singular key progression moves in and out of sight, the breakbeat four to the floor tinged beat making its presence known to full effect. The track in full swing is something else, the cosmic vibe never far away, the addition of diving arpeggio key lines give a real sense of flavour. The track continues on in this vein, each melodic element given time to express itself and conjure up a series of quite magical scenes and scenarios. JVXTA is next with the track 'Titan (Dub)', and after a brief interlude, gets straight down to business. The drum line rings true, pumped up and released, as the metallic singular note permeates through the beaty goodness. The intro of the pads add the new plain of musical enrichment, before the bass line from the gods kicks right in, and its a banger, to say the least. The track set itself up for the this moment, creating a sense of anticipation before creating an ever lasting sense of momentum. It slaps hard, not much else needs to be said. Next comes Drone Time Ensemble with their track 'Enter the Cosmo', that enters the ring with the percussive leading the way. The cymbals coming in at the end of the sequence provide a fresh take on the concept of building the rhythm, as before long they are joined by the light key arpeggios, and then the pad! it comes in at just the right moment, landing gently on all the energy that abounds beneath. The singular becomes the two, gliding up together before heading back down for a bit more, as the drums pull away for a moment before heading back out once more. Its a stunner! next comes Ryan Clover with the track 'Mojito', and the riddims come across strong with this one. They don't last long unaccompanied, as the bass line wraps itself around the beat, grooving contently into blissful states. The track moves from the drums and the bass and into its full bodied nature, the swirling pads growing and growing with the ever evolving bass line, that now has acidic tinges to it. Together, it all works to a T, a sense of evolution that is achieved through the slight manipulation of tone and melodic progression, its the kick we all craved. Next comes Dan Only with his track 'Dub Acid 6 - 5', and we really move up the gears with this one. Seemingly passing through a kaleidoscope of sound, the kicks hit hard down below, giving over this cavernous void for the melodic elements on top. The spaces draw our attentions to all the energy, pounding away like nobody's business, as the acid line comes in to fill the space. Its pretty hard to not get involved, the track effortlessly balanced in its approach and its progression, giving over the sense of everything that is to come and what has come before. To finish up, we have Stones Taro with their tune 'Mind of Blue'. A bolt of lighting that is only produced from jungle infused tracks, it has it all, down to the sound effects. Boundless drumming patterns are interlaced with slight yet powerful key work, the vocal samples doing their part to emphasise all the little variations in beat and tone. Its a wonderful final message from a track filled with so many moments of magic, where anything feels possible. This track becomes the final piece of the puzzle, where the intro began with consistency, through the course of the other part we have seen continual evolution, where sounds have been thrown in to great effect.

For any compilation for a label, it always comes back to the identity of the label or group releasing it. Its a journey through the ideals, the positives, the factors that make collective mindsets so strong, the pillars of their musical ideology threaded together through sounds and feels that showcase the strengths and demonstrate the collective unity. This comp goes so far and beyond to do both, to celebrate the work of the fucking talent found on here, but also the people who brought them all together. Bolting Bits remain very much at the forefront of the information hall-bearers for this generation, and long may their job to celebrate the very best in music continue on for as long as possible. Bravo all round.

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