Recommended: Various Artists – Think & Change

The level of buzz and excitement around “Think & Change” should not come as a shock. Since Boddika founded the label three years ago, Nonplus has become one of the most esteemed names in drum & bass, dubstep and techno. Instra:mental – the duo comprised of Boddika and Jon Convex – dominated the label’s early output but recent times have seen the label deviate from its drum & bass roots to showcase music from artists as diverse as Actress, Skream and Skudge. “Think & Change” – the label’s aptly titled first compilation – is the culmination of this departure.

Comprised of five two-track plates, the scope of “Think & Change” is broad – which is hardly surprising for a label that has encompassed sounds from across the dance music spectrum since its inception. Opener “&Fate” is the latest collaboration between Boddika and Joy Orbison. The duo have spent the past two years producing some of the UK’s biggest club hits and while “&Fate” – awash with unstable vocals and powered along by a frenetic bassline, may not fill us with the same immediate frenzy of excitement their earlier work did, this is a track which grows with each listen. Other names familiar to Nonplus are also present on production duties. Germany’s Lowtec is one, following “&Fate” with the stripped-back simplicity of “The Rhythm (Remix 2)”. Fellow countryman Kassem Mosse is contributes “IP Mirrors”, which foregoes his usual deep, lush sounds in favour of a more experimental approach that in parts is almost reminiscent of grime.

Stream: Kassem Mosse – Broken Patterns (Nonplus Records)

Boddika and Joy Orbison return with “Beats Me” and “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – Tip!” respectively. The latter – whose title is a nod at the description tendencies of the Hard Wax team – was a controversial omission from the digital release and is the latest in a long line of Joy Orbison tracks with almost mythical appeal. Joy Orbison has always had a knack for vocals and proves this once again with “Tip!”. However, it is the shaking bass which really steals the show, building the track away from its hauntingly empty beginnings to its hypnotic climax.

Supporting the Nonplus stalwarts is an array of renowned talents. Pearson Sound’sQuivver” is as uneasy as its title suggests; its rugged, peripatetic percussion and stabbing synths gloriously frantic in effect. Four Tet’s inclusion on the tracklist was perhaps a surprise to many and while “For These Times” is perhaps out of keeping with the overall dystopian feel of the compilation, as a standalone track it is undoubtedly a highlight. Jazzy in feel, “Times” fuses a driving groove with Hebden’s signature layered percussion. What ensues is simply glorious. It is left to Martyn to conclude proceedings, something that his melancholic tech house burner “Bad Chicago” does this with aplomb.

Nonplus has never been a label to shy away from change or transformation. The very inclusion of Instra:mental and dBridge’sWhite Snares” is testament to this. Initially shunned for a release, Boddika’s inclusion of the track is a nice nod to the label’s drum & bass roots. Its disparity with much of the album is testament to the distance Nonplus has travelled in just three years. As a collection of individually superb tracks, “Think & Change” excels. Taking into consideration the broader picture of the itinerant nature of  recent UK-centric electronic music, this is a body of work which manages to superbly encapsulate its time and place.

Stream: Basic Soul Unit – Untoward (Nonplus Records)

Think & Change is available now on Nonplus.

Matt Gibney

2 thoughts on “Recommended: Various Artists – Think & Change”

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