Skull Disco 2xCD sampler review by Bruce Adams

Music Reviews
Skull Disco 2xCD sampler review by Bruce Adams
Mar 31, 2008, 02:30

Skull Disco - Soundboy Punishments

VARIOUS ARTISTS Soundboy Punishments 2xCD

The label sampler is the best long form venue for electronic dance/techno/whatever music. Compiling singles tracks can and ought to display a label's strengths to the curious newcomer.

This double CD set lays out the case for the Skull Disco label, whose rapid rise to the tips of tastemakers' tongues can be verified in the new releases pages at Boomkat or the reviews section of XLR8R. It also helps that the label concentrates on the work of its owner-operators who release music as Shackleton and Appleblim. Everything they do as musicians and label owners indicates a level of premeditation and care that is guaranteed to hook a guy like me: great name (Skull Disco, come on!), snappy logo (a tentaclular noggin creature) and a highly focused catalog.

The sampler lays it all out, complete with the “grabbed-the-awareness-of-the-larger-world” remix by Ricardo Villalobos of “Blood on My Hands.” So is this stuff as overwhelmingly amazing as some say it is? Yes and no. Right at the start of Soundboy Punishments, I got the feeling that I was not hearing something utterly unprecedented. “Hamas Rules” begins the comp sounding a lot like Muslimguaze's early works, for example. Like all the tracks, it is punchy and tightly organized around drums. Shackleton and Appleblim know their minimal techno and obviously really love dub reggae. They have absorbed the latter's use of silence and echo into their pores. By and large it works even if it is not as revolutionary and innovative as some say it is.  I can see how, released over time one single at a time, this stuff blew the minds of discerning techno lovers. It's well crafted, hints at classical forms and just unpredictable enough to surprise and delight. If you've been around awhile and are interested (as I am) in electronic music and don't necessarily have an emotional stake in contemporary dance music this comp is one of those cases where you can make a relatively small investment in a new thing without shelling out the cash for a batch of UK 12”s. I think ten years from now you will still be going to it and you can't say that about a lot of the stuff that comes out in the neighborhood the Skull Disco folks live in. [Skull Disco/ Rough Trade]

-Bruce Adams


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