Mule may well be feting its fifth anniversary, but the gifts are all ours. Following Toshiya Kawasaki's imprint's first ambient compilation, Enjoy the Silence, earlier this spring, the second volume of My Favorite Things arrives just as the summer bubbles onto boil. Fitting then, as My Favorite Things 2 works as a pretty inviting barbecue starter. Constructed more as opening-hour fare than a soundtrack for the last few stragglers, the compilation blends sticky house with pretty psychedelic minimal, each given plenty of room to stretch and recline as the light heavies with night. Collecting mostly unreleased tracks from regular contributors and newcomers to the label, My Favorite Things 2 also sees Mule upping the ante a bit on last year's edition—the tracklist is a modest marvel, loaded with upper-crusters like Isolée, DJ Koze, and Âme.
If the label compilation is often a scattershot affair, My Favorite Things 2 is another notable exception. Most contributors are mid-summer fit: Minilogue's "My Teenager Gang," released earlier this year, is ten minutes of the Swedish duo's disorienting jungle heat. Plump hand drums flesh out the edges of several woozy tribal samples and slinky keyboard stabs. Minilogue pals Kab turn in tidal-current minimalism on "The Search and the Breaks"—a mental wormhole that proves house ain't cornered the market on "deep"—while Âme's remix of Koss' "Earth" splices eerie bird samples into its expansive narrative techno.
It's Isolée, however, that provides what's bound to be the focal point of interest with the bouncy disco-funk of "Albacares." Centered on chubby bass, the track exemplifies Rajko Müller's knack for creating playgrounds both spacious and belly-thick, with bells that gleam around his detailed sound-editing and playful guitar. It doesn't reinvent the wheel—Isolée's earned the right to play to trademark—but "Albacares" is for rolling anyway. For those watching the light wane, keep your ears open for Move D's excellent "Happylock." Based on a jaunty bass-n-drum groove, Move D loosens the track from the inside with shimmery effects without taking the focus away from its air-tight rhythms. But for this boy's money, the compilation's highlight comes from DJ Koze. "First Snow" opens with the kind of swirly sampled disco-house of Move D and The Mole—a million glinting specks massaged into one limber motion like a crowd in sway—before sifting into the tonal mesmerism of a Nathan Fake or Dominik Eulberg, its strings fading, its waves of soft static sweeping the track clean.
If "Jill" is Lawrence at his most generic—which, as RA's Peter Chambers noted in his review of Aus Music All Night Long, is beginning to form a bad habit for the talented producer—then it's a rare moment of the uninspired on My Favorite Things 2. 2009 is already a banner year of sorts for Toshiya Kawasaki's ever-improving imprint—at least if judged from the pixilated deep house of AOY-candidate DJ Sprinkles' Midtown 120 Blues to the two top-form comps. Here's to five more years, thirteen times over, if their presents are always so well-chosen.
Buy Various Artists - My Favorite Things Vol. 2 at
Tracklist: Various Artists - My Favorite Things Vol. 2 01. Koss - Ocean Wave (Across the Wave Mix)
02. Lawrence - Jill
03. Ribn - Lum Lum
04. Isolée - Albacares
05. Strategy - My Synthetic Guitar
06. Move D - Happylock
07. Koss - Earth (Âme Remix)
08. Kab - The Search and the Breaks (Contemplative Mix)
09. Minilogue - My Teenager Gang
10. Foog - Kanazawa
11. DJ Koze - First Snow
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