Various Artists - Box of DubMost compilations are like group photos: someone always has their eyes closed. Soul Jazz’s first foray into dubstep is almost an exception, but there’s still a couple of producers pulling unflattering faces here. Yet ‘Box of Dub’ does work well as an introduction to the high flying dubstep scene, whether it be a cash cow or a legitimate attempt to cross-pollinate their previous compendiums of reggae with their noble support of minimal electronica (from California particularly). To be fair though, the emphasis is on the dub roots of the scene rather than trying to cover all the possible ground. For this reason Digital Mystiks, Haze, Scuba and Skream appear with two tracks, while some of the pioneers and innovators such as Horsepower Productions, Benga and Shackelton are conspicuous by their absence. While there are no massive duds amongst the all-exclusive tracks, the first half is perhaps the strongest, as already by the second half the recurrence of the same names and the usual lack of unity found in compilations take its toll. Tayo and Acid Rockers Uptown manages to ruffle the downbeat side of things a little with the most overtly Jamaican sounding tracks, despite the endlessly good work of Paul St Hilaire (Tikiman) on Haze´s two cuts. Yet Burial’s gem ‘Unite’, with its watery two-step melancholia, pushes the envelope furthest, coming across the most powerful and emotive of the set. Kode 9 (without The Spaceape) is, as usual, brooding and innovative with a slick tale of urban fear, whereas Scuba adds a little hot air with his brash closing track ‘Respirator’. Yet thumbs up to Soul Jazz for not just picking the hits, and placing the genre in the context of their label, despite the overall lack of a bigger picture. A good primer, but you’ll need more than this to cover the full extent of the genre.
London record label releasing compilation albums of predominantly black music, including reggae, soul and jazz.
The label has since expanded its style, and has released further compilations of post-punk, electronica and world music, alongside a number of artist studio albums and singles.
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