London-based label Night Slugs had a banner year in 2010, topping off endless critical acclaim with the first volume of their All Stars series. But in 2011 and the first half of 2012, they seemed to focus on white labels and barebones club music; they were still active, and certainly still good, but no longer at the forefront of UK dance music. Then halfway through last year, something changed. Girl Unit dropped another EP of his inimitable style with Club Rez, a suddenly ubiquitous Bok Bok proved he was an incredibly imaginative DJ, and Jam City finally released his first album, a dazzling collection of glassy fragments and other assorted sharp ends. And the cherry on top? A second compilation. This time, though, it doesn't feel like a victory lap so much as the start of a new chapter.
Like the first edition, All Stars Vol.2 is partly a round-up of last year's best tracks and partly a collection of new club anthems. Among the familiar highlights are the brutal eskibeat slam of Bok Bok's "Silo Pass," Girl Unit's shapeshifting "Ensemble" and particularly Helix's "Drum Track," previously available only on vinyl. Helix's track is a perfect embodiment of the latter day Night Slugs ethos: he makes a mountain out of a molehill with just a few drum sounds and an uncannily Night Slugs synth, boiling down the idea of club music to a clear, genre-less aperitif. It's dead simple and all the more expansive for it.
The new material is every bit as promising. On the poppier end of things, Girl Unit extends the outro of last year's "Double Take," where shooting-star synths dance on slabs of sub-bass like nimble ballerinas, while Kingdom provides his version of a ballad with the uncharacteristically restrained "Bank Head." Egyptrixx delivers a strait-laced banger in "Adult," and the whole gang team up for a "Street Mix" of L-Vis 1990's "Lost In Love," stripping it of its sickly sweet pop treacle and making a screw-faced monster out of it.
Most hearteningly, American newcomer Morri$ finally gets a proper release. Just like Girl Unit, he fetishizes the holographic allure of southern rap beats, but fastens them to a distinctly American hip-hop template whose breezy synths I've already seen described as "chill trap." The addition of another geographically distant producer whose music sounds so identifiably Night Slugs is proof of the label's worldwide influence as well as its continued A&R excellence.
Buy Night Slugs - All Stars Vol. 2 at
Tracklist: Night Slugs - All Stars Vol. 2 01. L-Vis 1990 - Lost In Love (Night Slugs All Stars Street Mix)
02. Girl Unit - Ensemble (Club Mix)
03. L-Vis 1990 - Not Mad
04. Lil Silva - The 3rd
05. Kingdom - Stalker Ha
06. Bok Bok - Silo Pass
07. Jam City - How We Relate To The Body
08. Helix - Drum Track
09. Kingdom - Bank Head
10. Egyptrixx - Adult
11. Girl Unit - Double Take Part 2
12. Morri$ - White Hood