It's not quite fair to compare Planet Mu with Warp, but it's not totally inapt either. Both focused early and often on IDM but grew to encompass a lot more, and both have released key bass albums over the past few years. But while Mike Paradinas runs one of the tightest ships in the electronic world (doubly impressive given his label's focus on albums more than singles), Planet Mu is, by design, a lot more subcultural than Warp—Paradinas has yet to sign a Flying Lotus or a Boards of Canada or a Broadcast, someone that will cross over to the indie kids.
Nothing wrong with that, of course; in fact, that's probably Planet Mu's great strength. By 2007, the label had transformed into a confident, mature entity, hearable in different ways on a pair of compilations from that year. 10 Tons Heavy was a convincing dubstep collection—its leadoff was Pinch's landmark "Qawwali"—while 2OO integrated that serious bass weight into a broader vision in which IDM, far from its rep as a sneering magpie in regard to forward-moving London hardcore derivations, occupied a comfortable space as a scene uncle.
2OO cemented the label's late-blooming breadth and strength. By contrast—the title signals it from a mile away—14 Tracks from Planet Mu is far more of a simple sampler than any kind of mission statement. But the talent is pretty abundant, such as the recently tipped likes of FaltyDL, Ikonika and Floating Points. And though it fluctuates in quality, the sequencing is smartly done and gives it the sense of a stroll through a cohesive neighborhood, even if you don't care for some of the scenery—in my case, the inert synth-pop of the Internal Tulips and Rudi Zygadio's "Hooray for Captain Balding," which is as jokey-annoying as the title indicates.
But plenty else lights up brightly. Oriol's "Solar" kicks things off, neon-veined neo-rave that splits the difference between Pariah's "Prism" and Lone's Emerald Fantasy Tracks, while Ceephax Acid Crew's "Topaz" goes back to boxier analog sounds to similarly yearning ends. Slugabed remixes Starkey's "Stars" with blotchy bass and a dizzying stir of sounds that envelops Anneka's vocal. And Rossi B & Luca's "E10 Riddim" is a fizzy concoction of grime videogame f/x, dubstep wobble and restless snare work that pops all over the place—more evidence that Planet Mu isn't sitting still for a second.
Buy Various Artists - 14 Tracks from Planet Mu at
Tracklist: Various Artists - 14 Tracks from Planet Mu 01. Oriol - Solar
02. Solar Bears - To Be With Her
03. Floating Points - K&G Beat
04. Tropics - Give It Up
05. The Internal Tulips - Parasol
06. Boxcutter feat. Brian Greene - Ufonik
07. Kuedo - Starfox
08. Ceephax Acid Crew - Topaz
09. Starkey ft. Anneka - Stars (Slugabed Did A Remix)
10. FaltyDL - Endeavour
11. Rossi B & Luca - E10 Riddim
12. Swindle - Airmiles
13. Ikonika - Dckhdbtch
14. Rudi Zygadlo - Hooray for Captain Balding