DJ/rupture & Matt Shadetek - Solar Life Raft
Bass. Bassy, bassy bass. This compilation is all about the sonic rush of ragga-infused rumble, wobble and drops. Renowned New York producer and artist DJ/rupture has teamed up with Matt Shadetek, the co-founder of his forward-thinking label Dutty Artz, to gather together the best and brightest dubstep, soundclash and dancehall tracks out in the wild - as well as show off their not-inconsiderable mixing skills.
As technically impressive as it is though, I didn't find myself connecting with the compilation over its full running time. There's no denying that the pair are incredibly skilful at what they do, but for a reason thats hard to put my finger on the album never really feels like it takes off. Sure there are plenty of highlights, Stagga's stuttering bass experiments and mangled samples really catch the ear, while the electronic sheen the album's curators apply to garbled oddity Mothertongue Pt. 1 by Bjork and Grizzly Bear collaborator Nico Muhly is sonically dazzling. Seeking out the original versions of tracks used on Sonic Life Raft can be an astonishing experience at times, driving home how skilled the pair are at transforming, morphing and melding the individual works into something new and completely their own.
The duo clearly take a lot of pleasure in probing musical boundaries, demonstrated by 4th Story Waterline, one of a number of tracks the pair produced together on the album. They surround the sombre sound of Brent Arnold's cello in a shroud of sub-bass rumblings in a way that really shouldn't work. Of course, it sounds fantastic.
A hint of techno joins the mix with the inclusion of Rupture's shimmering rework of Skull Disco impresario Shackleton's Into the Void, while Four Tet-style digital rain pours over the smooth tomes of poet Elizabeth Alexander in a stand-out track towards the end of the album. I say track, but the sleeve indicates there are three joints melded into one to create this picture card-pretty sound collage. It's incredible that you honestly can't make out the joins. This is an indisputable work of brilliance in one sense then, but the frustrating truth is that all the clever mixing in the world won't mean a thing if it doesn't gel together to create an engaging whole.