CD Review: Shadow: Hed Sessions

Various Artists
Shadow: Hed SessionsElectronic music is widely regarded as the next frontier in popular tunage. Unfortunately, it’s also plagued by a level of genre hairsplitting unparalleled in modern history. Researchers have actually proven that electronic music develops a new subgenre every 14.45 minutes.
With so many different subgenres floating about, even the most hardcore electronic music afficionados have trouble telling when one type of drum ‘n’ bass ends and another begin, or how soulful house music has to be before it gets called soulful house. Most confusing of all, is the term downbeat, a subgenre whose sole defining feature is being slower than any other sort of electronic music. Shadow Records’ Hed Sessions, which bills itself as a downbeat compilation, proves, once and for all, that downbeat is a thoroughly meaningless term. More importantly, however, Hed Sessions is a damn good album, with a wide range of sounds. GOO mixes up dub reggae, jazzy piano, hip hop scratching and slowed down breakbeats to create a head nodding funk for the new millennium on “Bomboclat Elements” and “Week End Brive.” Mujaji play innovative instrumental hip hop reminiscent of Dan the Automator and Kid Koala. Saru’s sound is what would happen if Massive Attack, Aphex Twin and assorted Saturday Night Live cast members were locked in a recording studio with several kilos of high grade marijuana. Most interesting is Hybrid Device, who play what could only be described as hi-tech futuristic lounge music.
The only disappointing outfit on Hed Sessions is Merkin, who produce a sort of slowed down minimalist techno. Really minimalist. Actually, it’s just five minutes of a beat punctuated by a beeping noise. Still, if you can overlook Merkin’s irritating noise, Hed Sessions is a completely amazing album, filled with diverse and compelling artists, sub genre be damned. (Shadow)

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