I’m quite sure every music lover is fond of compilations, either overtly and proudly admitting it or living it as a guilty pleasure, almost disrespectful to the more coherent album format or the easier-and-faster to digest single/ep approach (not to mention the release-random-tracks-on-soundcloud formula so widespread in the electronic music scene). Yet, compilations retain a unique and undeniable appeal: they act as a runway show that allows us to delve into the minds and the tastes of the selectors, or the aesthetics of record labels, be them monochromatic variations (think compilations released by the likes of Stroboscopic Artefact, Teklife and Downwards) or kaleidoscopic efforts (Houndstooth, Hyperdub and L.I.E.S. come to mind).
At the crossroads of these two general approaches stands Mothership, a collaborative release between Midnight Shift and Voitax. You got it right, two labels for one compilation. If this doesn’t sound exciting enough, a quick look at the tracklist will captivate you. Each track is four-handed, with a total amount of thirty artists for fifteen tracks.
Given the back catalogue of the two labels, it’s no surprise that Mothership mostly deals with dancefloor material in the vein of UK-tinged broken techno, although there are several and notable exceptions that venture into unexpected lands.
All the artists involved have previously appeared on the two labels, and you’re likely to find at least one of your favourite producers (there are several of mine, FYI) as well as lesser-known artists.
Things kick off with Hodge and Nico going tribal, and the curtain falls after Florian Kupfer and Innsyter round off with a disorienting guitar and percussions track that’s arguably the least Kupferish thing he has ever put out.
Distributed across the compilation there’s a core of gritty, almost industrial, techno which will work fine in your sets; but the true highlights comes from the outskirts: Invia and Masha Motive provide a breakbeat bomb with dubby melody, while the most unexpected track is a proper dub piece by Cressida and Makaton. For those who like it slow and sexy menacing, Parisian golden boy Simo Cell teams up with ABSL for a slowed-down techno track which recalls 2010/11 Andy Stott. Another slow- jam/gem comes from L/F/D/M and Veronica Maximova, a malfunctioning cold wave in DIY ethos. The two dream teams, though, are Don’t DJ + Harmonious Thelonious (an album together, when?), who show once again their mastery in electronic percussionism; and Chicago underground hero Jamal Moss working with live performance wizard KiNK to make an irresistible four-to-the-floor house track with Arabic connotations that is at once jackin, acid and dreamy.
I can’t help but think about the title of this compilation is referencing the iconic Parliament’s album, Mothership Connection. If that was the spaceship where funk and science got mixed up and landed on earth, here the science and the quest for funkiness translates into the chemistry of creative interaction of four-handed works. And a massive dose of electronic music, of course.