The last time Hotflush Recordings released a compilation, 2007's Space and Time, they were dishing out chromatic variations on dubstep. Fast forward four years and they feel far, far away from the genre. With a disc of exclusive cuts and a retrospective chronicling the years since Space and Time, Back and 4th shows a label evolving in real-time through techno, house, electro and drum & bass and emerging from the sprawl with an even clearer identity.
The retrospective disc paints a fascinating trajectory, picking some not-so-obvious highlights from the label's rather masterful run of recent years. The label's in-house family is well-represented, with Mount Kimbie front and centre: the miniature funk of "Sketch on Glass" and James Blake's kaleidoscopic remix of "Maybes" are the most immediate moments, and in a similar vein the incredible Jamie Vex'd remix of Scuba's "Twitch" predicts a whole trend of hypercolour bass music. The disc also features classic early material from Pangaea ("Bear Witness"), Untold ("Sweat," miles away from his recent material), and of course, Joy Orbison's universal rave-without-borders anthem "Hyph Mngo."
The ten previously released tracks would make for a solid enough label history, but they're easily overshadowed by the ten new tracks. Compilations are often overstuffed with stray leftovers, but Back and 4th is prim and proper, ten eminently solid tracks from ten eminent producers. The compilation carries a few surprises, particularly as Scuba delivers a raucous electro rave-up on "Feel It" and FaltyDL serves up a slice of out-of-nowhere synth-orchestra bombast sliced and diced by his usual arsenal of shuffling hats and snares. There are dependable workhorses too: Sigha delivers one of his most assertive workouts yet in the rough-and-tumble breakbeat of "Fold," and George FitzGerald offers the silky "We Bilateral" which turns a vocal stutter into overlapping layers of light-saturated ecstasy.
What Back and 4th confirms is that Hotflush is more than ever a beacon for the furthest reaches of bass music, firmly on point even as it traverses unfamiliar territory (like whatever the hell Roska's deeply weird "Measureless" is supposed to be). Perhaps best of all, it marks the official production debut of label manager Incyde, whose stunning "Axis" irrigates a lumbering technoid stomp with Drexciyan aquatics, somewhere in between techno and dubstep. He's got more where that came from, and one can only assume the same goes for the label itself.
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Tracklist: Various Artists - Back and 4thCD1
01. Sepalcure - Taking You Back
02. Boxcutter - LOADtime
03. Boddika - Warehouse
04. dBridge - Knew You Were The 1
05. Scuba - Feel It
06. FaltyDL - Regret
07. Sigha - Fold
08. George FitzGerald - We Bilateral
09. Incyde - Axis
10. Roska - Measureless
01. Mount Kimbie - Sketch on Glass
02. Scuba - Twitch (Jamie Vex’d Remix)
03. Joy Orbison - Hyph Mngo
04. Mount Kimbie - Maybes (James Blake Remix)
05. Sigha - Expansions
06. Untold - Just For You (Roska Remix)
07. Scuba - Tense
08. Untold - Sweat
09. Pangaea - Bear Witness