I’m kicking off my review of 2008 with a list of five of the best compilations of both old and new material.
5. VARIOUS – Phantom Channel Presents Part 1 (Phantom Channel PHCH001-1)
Netlabel Phantom Channel launched this year with this excellent free, download only, compilation. A mixture of electronica, ambient drone and what could be loosely classified as post-rock, it was a strong opening statement.
4. VARIOUS – Magnetism, That Electricity (Highpoint Lowlife HPLL026)
This was a double vinyl extravaganza with a side each given to the Mandelbrot Set, Fisk Industries, the Village Orchestra and the Marcia Blaine School for Girls. Ranging from dubby hip hop and neoclassical drone to melodic electronica, this was an exceptional collection with no weak links.
3. VARIOUS – The Complete Motown Singles Volume 10: 1970 (Hip-o-Select B0011056-02)
The Complete Motown singles series has been running since 2005, building up into a library of every track released on 45 by all of the Motown group of labels during the Detroit era. The packaging and sleevenotes are second to none. The music ain’t bad either. Volume 9 came out this year in the UK too. Volume 11a is already out in the US; its British release date is next month.
2. STEINSKI – What Does It All Mean: 1983-2006 Retrospective (Illegal Art IA116)
This was the first time that much of this material ever gained an official, above-board release. The first disc is a trawl through Steinski’s cut-and-paste turntablist classics conceived over nearly a quarter of a century, and the second an hour long mix created for the Solid Steel radio show. Anyone with more than a passing interest in hip hop and turntablism really ought to own this.
1. GAS – Nah und Fern (Kompakt CD66)
The complete Gas-works in a box for around three quid a disc? This has to be the bargain of the year (and I like my bargains!). Wolfgang Voigt produced these four albums between 1996 and 2000, and each is a classic of its kind. It’s ambient techno, I suppose, if you must pin a label on it, but with a breadth of vision and purpose seldom matched in its field. Nice packaging too, if a little uninformative.