Even though DFA didn't chart in RA's recent Top Labels of the Year poll, 2010 was a great year for the NYC imprint. James Murphy solidified his own personal credentials with the third LCD Soundsystem album (and its accompanying blistering live performances), Shit Robot finally committed to the long player format with his intuitive blend of classic house and synth pop and they welcomed new talents such as Black Van and the headfuck experience of Gavin Russom's latest incarnation The Crystal Ark. Chronicling the label's vivid year, the tautologically titled DFA 2010 Compilation does exactly as it says on the (digital) tin as well as hinting at the label's future.
Having abandoned the 80-minute limitations of the compact disc for its anthologies, it is surprising to find the label privileging a lot of shortened versions of previously released singles for this new digital compilation. Therefore, if you loathe so-called "radio edits" made of songs you barely ever hear on the radio anyway, you are obviously going to hate what they have done to Discodeine's "Synchronize" and NDF's "Since We Last Met." That said, in both these cases, Jarvis Cocker's croon on "Synchronize" benefits from a song structure more akin to its disco-pop feel, just like NDF's otherwise interminable, lingering jam is more approachable in its four-minute incarnation.
On the other hand, bringing The Crystal Ark's towering "The City Never Sleeps"' 12 original minutes to a mere five doesn't do justice to Russom's otherworldly vision of altermodern dance music. Reassuringly, Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra (the dazzling, ever-shifting "Beginning of the Heartbreak / Don't Don't") and Justine & The Victorian Punks (the Gordon-produced, gorgeously sultry "Beautiful Dreamer") are shown the same reverence and respect the label had for them last year when they anthologized their pioneering work.
Those preferring the post-punk, song-based, livelier end of the label's stylistic spectrum will be pleased to find Holy Ghost! (the surprisingly funky "I Know, I Hear") and Prinzhorn Dance School (the rigidly restrained "Seed, Crop, Harvest") on here, although both bands almost seem uninspired next to The xx's resonant and pristine remix of YACHT's "The Afterlife": in all its calculated wizardry and the attention given to every single sonic detail, it is truly one of the highlights of DFA's recent releases. New talent Jee Day comes close, though: "Like a Child" is as mesmeric, unremitting and inventive as a production from the aforementioned Russom and it solidifies the label's position as a relevant leftfield house player.
Those questioning the representativeness of the selection collected here should also hunt down DFA Gets Cheap With Bleeps, another digital compilation released earlier in 2010 on which the likes of the aforementioned Black Van, Canyons and Walter Jones (i.e. the other invigorating additions to the DFA stable of late) get their chance to shine. But on DFA 2010, the tracks are overall more diverse and tighter, twelve bits of proof that Murphy and co. aren't losing one iota of their proverbial edge.
Tracklist: Various Artists - DFA Records - 2010 Compilation01. Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra - Beginning of the Heartbreak / Don't Don't
02. Michoacan - In the Dark of the Night (Radio Edit)
03. Shit Robot - Take Em Up
04. Jee Day - Like a Child
05. Holy Ghost! - I Know, I Hear
06. Prinzhorn Dance School - Seed, Crop, Harvest
07. YACHT - The Afterlife (The XX Remix)
08. Justine & The Victorian Punks - Beautiful Dreamer
09. Discodeine - Synchronize (Radio Edit) [feat. Jarvis Cocker]
10. The Crystal Ark - The City Never Sleeps (Video Edit)
11. Woolfy - Looking Glass (Extended Version)
12. NDF - Since We Last Met (Radio Edit)
Other DFA Records reviews