A banner two years has seen Get Physical ascend imperiously to the top of the minimal house label heap. Their signature sound - smooth, light, funk-influenced and texturally exquisite - has in that time graced a plethora of mixes and magnificent singles, including a sequence of massive crossover anthems, while excellent long players from Chelonis R Jones, Booka Shade and Fuckpony have demonstrated the label’s mastery of the full length artist album, a notoriously difficult concern in dance music.
This five-year anniversary collection is, therefore, eagerly anticipated. Comprising one CD of exclusive tracks and another of remixes of key Get Physical tracks, it should by rights be a landmark release. Inexplicably, though, Get Physical have dropped the ball. One disappointment follows another on the CD of exclusives - particularly frustrating are the new tracks from Jona, whose rather perfunctory 'Fisherman' is the first misstep of an otherwise remarkable fledgling career, and Chelonis R Jones, who appears to have phoned in 'Dirty Lipstick' with half his mind on retreading his vaguely sleazy schtick to no discernible purpose, and the other half on a good book. Elsewhere, Riton and Heidi reprise their 'Vejer' single with half its verve and energy on 'To The Gum'; and while M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade's take on Laurie Anderson's classic 'Oh Superman' is mouth-watering on paper, it’s merely a pleasant curio on disc. Minor redemption comes only at the end with Lopazz's terrific 'The Fact', a sleek, metallic slice of Tiefschwarz-esque electro.
The remix CD fares better. Instead of consistent dullness, it veers wildly between ill-advised attempts to court the indie crossover audience and mind-blowing reworks which rescue the entire project from irrelevance. Let's get the negatives out of the way: the presence of Hot Chip and The Rapture on remix duty is slightly dispiriting - these are decent indie/dance acts whose riotous, kitchen-sink approach to production is entirely at odds with Get Physical's sleekness, and not in such a way that the cross-pollination bears interesting results: their approach to their commissions is akin to taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, and to find nothing of worth within. Even these, though, are more welcome than Moby getting his grubby paws on Djuma Soundsystem's 'Les Djinns'.
Meanwhile, Señor Coconut and Fakesch make decent fists of 'Body Language' and 'Mandarine Girl' respectively; but there's always a difficulty when taking on such well-known anthems in striking the balance between using enough elements of the original for there to be a point in remixing it, and asserting the remix's own individuality. While fun, the Latin carnival samples of the former and the jittery speed garage beats of the latter do feel somewhat sellotaped on to the originals.
There is gold to be found amongst the silt in this particular river, though. Dexter's rework of DJ T's 'Freemind' is a masterpiece of menace, all space battle synths and astonishing builds, while the marriage of Henrik Schwarz's lush, grumbling bass to the sinister chimes of Booka Shade's 'Vertigo' is one made in dancefloor heaven. Best of all are two contrasting takes on Chelonis R Jones's wistful ballad 'I Don't Know'. Lopazz magnifies the original's melancholy in his rather beautiful reworking, bringing Jones's vocals out front and framing them with intimate, glitchy beats and mournful swells of bass; Herbert, on the other hand, turns it into a bouncing, summery thing of joy, resting the main vocal line on a bed of delightful and deeply satisfying cut-up backing vocals.
The Get Physical sound has always flirted with a vaguely coffee table aesthetic, and this hint of lifestyle music has been a large part of their appeal. But the attention to polish has always been matched by an equal commitment to a track's substance; without the latter, the risk of staleness looms. This compilation isn't a nail in the label's coffin by any means: the stream of brilliant 12"s shows no sign of drying up. But it may well be a minor warning sign.
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Tracklist: Various Artists - 5 Years of Get PhysicalCD 1
1 Chelonis R. Jones - I Don’t Know (Herbert’s Presets Only Mix)
2 M.A.N.D.Y. - No Stoppin’ (Hot Chip Remix)
3 Fuckpony - Ride The Pony (Sebastian Tellier Remix)
4 Booka Shade - Night Falls (Larry Gold’s ‘Night Falls Over Philly’ String Version)
5 DJ T. - Freemind (Dexter Remix)
6 Booka Shade - Vertigo (Henrik Schwarz Remix)
7 Lopazz - Migracion (Fujiya & Miyagi Remix)
8 Williams - Picadilly Circuits (The Rapture Remix)
9 Jona - Learning From Making Mistakes (Sideshow Remix)
10 M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shade - Body Language (Señor Coconut Remix)
11 Chelonis R. Jones - I Don’t Know (Lopazz Remix)
12 Elektrochemie - Pleasure Seeker (Earl Zinger’s Out In The Barn Remix)
13 Booka Shade - Mandarine Girl (Fakesch Remix)
14 Djuma Soundsystem - Les Djinns (Moby Remix)
CD 2 – The Exclusives
1 Jona - Fisherman
2 Audiofly X - Don't Panic Till I Said So
3 DJ T. - Once In A Lifetime
4 Riton vs Heidi - To The Gum
5 Booka Shade - Unhealthy Pleasures
6 M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shade Feat. Laurie Anderson - Oh Superman
7 Einzelkind - As Long As You Want Me To
8 Elektrochemie - Caiti
9 Williams - Illegal Ninja Moves
10 Chelonis R. Jones - Dirty Lipstick
11 Lopazz - The Fact
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