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Various Artists - Cave Waves EP (Mood Waves, 2021)

The Berlin imprint sees in their second release in some style, with a plethora of styles from across the spectrum making up an audial experience filled with punchiness and euphoria.

The various artists format is an opportunity for a label to showcase everything they wish to achieve, both sonically, musically and from an identity point of view. Whilst giving over to one singular artist for an EP is always a measure of making steps in a forward facing direction, the VA records are a measure of the limits of the label's ambitions, where a number of differing producers come together to contribute to a sound which emphasises the creative mindset and all that it can bring to the table. It demonstrates a collectivised sound, one usually born out of strong friendships and musical bonds that feed into the label's ambitions to continually refine and edit its developing identity. To begin life in such lofty and ambitious spaces is a daunting task, but some imprints take it in their stride, content in the knowledge that the music which they bring together is diverse, full of flavour, and seeped in relfectionism of the creative context in which it was made. Engaging in both a friendly and familiar context also brings with it differing representations of a developing core identity, one that champions the notions of togetherness whilst continually encouraging the concept of individualism, which in turn provides a balanced listening experienced filled with all manner of brilliance and flair. Many labels look to mingle their singular artists outputs with various artist comps, creating a gate keeping feel to these records as an accumulation of all that has transpired on the previous few releases to provide an almost summary of what has come before and indeed indicating where they might end up in the near future. It not only serves as a chapter break in the on going narrative, but also as a method in which to bring into the fold often new or unestablished artists, giving them a level of credence that leads to further involvement and eventually individualised records in the future. Its a family affair, where the tunes found within a four or five tracker feel like siblings - related but all with their own individuality, their own identity and experiences, all looking to weave their own paths in life and draw focus to their formalised sound. The positive connections that begin to emerge give weight to the collection as a whole, providing us with a wealth of contexts and vibes to engage with and get to know, crafting an experience that lays bare the label's musical DNA and the pals that form the basis of the ride into the deep depths of the audial narrative. We ride the crest of the wave, pulled in differing directions as the energies ebb and flow up and down the beach, moving us along with the sand and the water, a bonded interaction of cause and effect, a relationship that follows the elasticity of the music soundtracking our experiences. We leave with a renewed sense of purpose, a new direction leading in all manner of directions, leaving behind a soundtrack that delivered so much in such a short period of time, its story and mood one constantly worth revisiting and getting to know all over again.

This kind of friendly and creative environment is exactly the vibe that is being curated by the recently formed imprint Mood Wave, that has already shown how the power of collaboration and bringing together like minded individuals can craft some spell binding moments indeed. Formed in Berlin by DJs Shaque and Tjizza, the label emphasises the notion of utilising their friendship groups wider talents to bring forth a spectrum of sounds that provide a backdrop to many moods and contexts, with the tracks found within their records very much singing from similar song sheets but with the melodics on top hinting at differing emotive plains and styles. The songs found within channel a healthy amount of house and techno, but not just singular representations of these genres but a real diverse selection of features and structures that give over an incredible balance and feel to proceedings, a dip into the widest expanse imaginable. The music feels very fresh as a result, never sitting still but yearning to showcase its widest and fullest extents, intent on giving over to us an experience that is incredibly fulfilling and joyous, a celebration of all that exists and persists within the two genres from the past right through to the present. This level of excellence was certainly established on their debut record, 'The Experience' EP, that arrived last year, with the music recorded by Giammarco Orsini & Jacopo Latini under the Data Memory Access name. Its a wonderfully eclectic affair, with the music drawing much influence from the progressive house and early 90s UK house sound to bring forth a record which flows impeccably well and moves through the gears at a easy going pace, as it touches on many forms of techno and house with a laid back but purposeful character. As debut albums go, its a real benchmark not just for the label but for other producers, in showcasing how to create a playful and broad EP that showcases a number of differing strands which weave and dip around one another, crafting an outlook on both genres that is invigorating and joyous to get involved within. As first efforts go, the record was a wonderful offering, one that pointed in all the right directions in terms of a solid foundation to build upon, with the label showcasing exactly what kind of brand and identity they wanted to push forward when it comes to crafting records and encouraging producers who release on the imprint. It seems the environment in which they curate amongst their pals is a very positive one, and we for one are very excited to see what keeps flowing out of the Mood Waves door in the future.

And now we arrive at the subject of today's review, their second outing on vinyl, the 'Cave Waves' EP, that brings together 6 producers on this even broader and wide ranging effort which builds on the success of the debut and simply goes from there. The music found within explores a little bit beyond the boundaries of the debut, with additional flavours including tech house and tropical house, with the music found within spending a lot of time finding the sweet spots between hard hitting beats and emotive moments that invite the heart and soul to truly soar. Its a family affair of the highest order, and so without further delay, lets dive into this wonderful gem of a record......

Up first comes Rub800 with their track, 'Continually Amending', and the high octane kicks really hammer home the collective energy of what is to come. The light cymbals and hats provide additional ammunition to the percussive structures, as a winding diving bass line weaves its way through the parapet, eager to showcase its dubby depths and dizzying highs, with a cascading glass like sound adding textures and clarity to the powerful sub base. Light pads soon descend from up high and lay down on top of the foundation, adding a tenderness to the raw power that persists throughout the cut, which recedes after a few swings through the sequences to move into a dub section, with all manner of wavelength variation occurring within the mid section. The build up back into the melodic section is a long one, but the amount of care and attention placed on making the sonic landscape as compelling and expansive as possible means that we never get unengaged or stumped, simply carried along for an intense ride indeed. Its hypnotic in its display, captivating us through the beat structures and caressing us with its meaningful melodics and key work, with both sequences working so very well together to convey power but also emotive elements too. A delightful opener. TB Shine are up next with their track 'Lotto Laden', and like with the previous cut its the drums that soundtrack the intro. The beat is upbeat, vibrant and funky, with varying percussive layers adding to a carnival kind of vibe, with little variations in the filters signalling the bass line to align itself within the bed rock of the track. Its journey sees it touch on all facets of the rhythm, taking into account all the elements that persist on every side of the panning, creating a heavy as hell groove that would pass through all the bodies in the crowd. Little hints that melodic features are on the way come and go through the membrane, but around the 2:30 minute mark is when they take root and stay for a while, taking the form of a floating arpeggio that contrasts with the thumping beats found below. Soon after they leave comes the hollowed out pads that add depth and weight to proceedings, with the bass line coming back into the picture soon after, with light key elements perching on the sidelines, eager to throw themselves back into the action. That rhythm will leave a lasting expression, thats for sure. Up next comes Nuji with their track 'Love888', and this one veers away from the immediate house laden tendencies. The beat is sparse and high tempo, consisting of kicks and hats that craft immeasurable amounts of space for the sweeping pads and bass line to inhabit, with a robotic voice added in for good measure as the beat fluxes with the times. The hats that come in the backdrop add a level of consistency within the rhythmic structure, acting as a flat line of inquiry that works so very well with the choppy features that make up the crux of the groove. The track takes a breather to introduce its new focus, a mesmerising key line that keeps the funky feels going on strong, with the drums seeing a plethora of switches in relation to density and tone, with the pads returning soon after to complete the picture. Its a beautiful picture, one that moves along at a frantic speed, propelled forward by a careful application of transitional elements which keep the fire burning long into the night. This one could move mountains. Class.

DJ Tjizza arrives next with their track 'Section E', and on this one the keys welcome us into the fold. The key sequence is hypnotic, driving home not just the pulse but the audial environment of what is to transpire, with the beat arriving soon after to take us on a journey through laser beams and sprawling futuristic cities. The power of the key line is added to with additional vocal snippets and pads, both of which do not stand its way but merely interject at all the right moments, keeping the weaving nature of the sequence going on strong as it courses through our veins. The dips in rhythmic energies keep the freshness of the track very much up there, with the small breakdowns that occur every now and then simply building further and further into our consciousness with each passing second. A brilliant flow from here to there, top draw. Up next comes Rù with their track 'Magically (Bela Dub)', and the tone comes down a little bit for this one. The track opens up with a fullness in regards to both the drums and the keys, with melodic elements sweeping over the top of a pulsating bass line and considered drums, which grow and evolve as time passes by, with the patterns becoming more intricate and full as we move through the gears with eagerness and passion. The first breakdown sees the bass line swell and swell some more, before the drums slide back into view and we get a taste of some gorgeous stabs that move across the top ends of the track, their placement and groove something to marvel at, as our minds immediately think of those euphoric moments on the dance floor. The cut ducks and dives through differing structures, in which differing elements take turns to move into the backdrop or to the sides, maintaining a sense of forward momentum that keeps us fully locked into every single moment. Fantastic stuff. To wrap things up on this absolute beat fest, we have Miami Beatz 93' with their track 'Electric Pilsation', and the rhythmic ingredients take down into a proper choppy feel indeed. The beat is broad and wide reaching, featuring all that classic Chicago House jazz with the hats and kicks, which provide a wonderful base for the playful bass line to come sliding into view, a sequence that is quickly complimented by the vocal line that adds further to the bass laden nature of the cut. Light key lines permeate through the rhythmic goodness, adding further to the ongoing audial narrative that flows in our general direction. Its an incredibly expressive track, one that captures your attention as soon as it arrives with its continually shifting soundscape and intricate rhythmic patterns, all of which is held together by subtle but effective melodic features that further cement this EP firmly in our hearts and minds. A superb offering from the Mood Waves cru.

6 artists, 6 differing cuts, 6 slices of excellence. We talked a lot about collectivisation of friends and sounds fostering an atmosphere of diversity and boundary pushing, and here on this EP we see so much excellence abound from every single corner. Each cut shares similarities to one another, acting as a cohesive and highly enjoyable group unit, but individually drives home the characteristics and intentions of the producers behind them, with attention placed on the differing relationships crafted between the percussive undertones and melodic touches on top. Its a mix of music that points directly to the dance floor, but also taps into a deeper listen where we wish to look into and understand the various switches and transitions that occur frequently throughout. 2021 might have just started, but this one is a serious contender for VA release of the year. Top, top stuff.

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