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Various Artists - RM12004 (R.A.N.D Muzik, 2019)

The richness bleeds from this superb collective release on the ever excellent R.A.N.D.

What do we want? Dance music! and how do we want it? Across the board! Small compilations always turn up the goods, and are a real representation of the artists within a label, or represent not necessarily artists on the label but the overall vibe of the label. This represents a summary of the label, its musical ambition and feeling, and is always a good litmus test and entry into any of them as a means of getting to the heart of what its all about. A reflection of character, essence and flavours, a boiling pot of collective ideals and concepts.

R.A.N.D has been in the game now for 20 years, with the German label head and distributor proudly focusing on the quality and sonic qualities of releases under its watchful eye. The Recordings arm of the label, from which this release calls its home, has always had a focus on superb and ear catching dance music. Taking ingredients from across the spectrum, the label looks to the past as much as it has an eye for the contemporary dance floor, and this is very much reflected in the music. This is the 7th instalment within the series that focuses on a collective approach, with RM241218 from 2018 a particular highlight, along with 2019's reissue of Mik Poynter's 1996 classic 'Elysium Groove' getting a new lease of life through the label. All these collective approaches allows for the label to allow established artists and up and coming ones to sit side by side, style by style, in a collective consciousness that strives for dance floors to shake in their respective spectrums. 'RM12004' is no different, showcasing flavours of rave, deep classic house, breakbeat, and the like. The list could go on. Each song sings a different tune, and demonstrates the labels approach to the collective appeasement of heads everywhere. So lets dig in.

First up, we have Time Schlockermann with 'News'. The shuffle starts off dippy and trippy on this one, with echoed synths intertwined with cymbals, before pads introduce a subdued but immense kick drum. The cymbals suddenly find a context, and it reminds us the old school techno vibes of old. A slight acid line is heard in the back, that rebounds back and forth with ease and delight. The ingredients are all there, as the food is taken out the oven then smacked back in with a hearty bass line. Much like South African house of the 90s, the bass line pounds along hard, racing to the beat. This track just oozes smoothness, the bass line very much the beating heart of the track, as the other elements add an enormous amount of weight. Textures, tones, they all come together superbly, as the track dips and dives around, never losing sight of its overall goal. The drums drop out at the right moments for us to just take a breather, but that bass line keeps us grooving endlessly. Up next we have 'Honda Rave' by Salomo. To kick things off, drumming patterns frantically move around, jumping up and down, high and low. The atmosphere goes up a notch with the intro of a broken down kick drum, accompanied by a wee little bass with some harmony to it. Cute swirling synths chime down, like water running down a window, before slight key stabs come into play. The build up here is first class, intricate elements all playing their part, as the groove is woven beautifully. When the harmonic elements come in, its game over. The keys now play their part in the dance, very slightly building the melodies up, with the drums still remaining, claps now joining in for good measure. The stabs drift away, with breakbeat lines and DJ Central esq vocal workouts introduced. As the tune breaks down, its almost immediately built up once again. Dance music is often critiqued for being overly simple. Dance music is sometimes critiqued for being overtly complicated, with no end goal. Here Salomo just finds this perfect blend, the build ups, the subtleness and softness of the keys, it all just matches up perfectly. Top notch shit.

Up next we go way way down for Carmel's 'Georgia (R.A.N.D. Mix)'. We're greeted by big old wooshes of sound, reverberating in the pleasure stimulating part of our brains. The pads are gorgeously placed, timed and designed, seemingly having a mind of their own as they consciously blend themselves into the imagination. The breakbeats come in, adding depth and groove, but those chords. Damn they are so good. Dubby and rich, this song has texture in spades, and the tune nurtures this as the song moves on. It becomes enriched by its own world, taking and giving in equal measure. The beat evolves too, as more pads come into play, adding this concept of motion to the track enormously. Infectious, this song is. Beautiful, oh yes, this whole album is. Finally, to end our little journey, we have Rudolf with 'Accreation Disc'. After all the flavours, we get the big one. The beat presents itself immediately, and then the pads come in big time. Floating on top of a bed of beaty goodness, the drums break down into another scene, with the keys maintaining their distance, ready to pounce at any moment. Little lines come in here and there, as the acid presents itself. The moment we were all waiting for! it chimes and gives itself over to us, as the beat just grows and grows. The pads always on their neverending journey, content to just take it all in. Damn. Pure Energy.

This EP is bonkers. Bonkers in the sense that each artist brings their own level of intensity, showcasing their individual talents, but creating something that works so well together as a group. Each track gives us a notion of dance music, giving us a new scene, a new vibe to get our teeth into, but at the same time has a flow that undeniably brilliant. Hats off people, superb across the board!

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