Given its packaging as a virtual greatest hits for the label, hearing these ten tracks back to back just reinforces the run Laid's had over the last two-and-a-half years. More traditionally Detroit in timbre than the glassy European glides of Dial, Laid takes that label's aesthetic and forces its already wide open vistas into horizon-spread playgrounds. It's a sound, rhythmically at least, grubbier and muddier, one fitting for the roughened industrial Midwest which inspired it. But beneath all that grumbling are often silken, wonder-lit explorations of—and plays upon—the label's parent. It's hard to imagine a Laid without a Dial.
What started in spring of 2009 with a historical nod from Motor City legend Rick Wade in "Intelligence"—the Morgan Freeman-sampling soulful stomp of "Ricky's Groove" is included here—quickly found booming acclaim with John Roberts' "Blame," a dust-specked but gleaming romp of classical deep house that remains arguably the American's most alluring creation to date. Along the way, there's been swirling vocal-stunted warm-ups (Lowtec's "Use Me"), slow-pitched getaway house (Lawrence's "Precious Hall") and little pad-laced synthetic daydreams (Smallpeople's "A Place Called Dream" or Christopher Rau's "Soulful").
Kassem Mosse's "Untitled," on the other hand, is simultaneously gritty, funky and often breathtakingly beautiful. What begins with a grainy, grinding bump of a beat and dizzying vocal samples soon winds into a series of interlocked synth melodies that almost sound like the bastardized crossbreed of Lawrence and Juan Atkins. Black Jazz Consortium's "Applied Vibes," meanwhile, centers around a narcotized lunarscape underpinned by brawny echoing rhythms. It's a track which, if heard in a void, would be really difficult to pin to a year—or even an era. That's a fine testimony to the brand of distinctively retro-fitted futurism Laid has traced thus far. No matter where you stand on the vinyl/digital/CD divide, I think we can all agree that these ten luxurious gems deserve to be on the car/home/club/bathroom stereos of as many people as possible.