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London-based Astrophonica, headed by Charlie Fracture, kicks off 2017 with a compilation capturing the sounds that have driven the label forward for the past five years. *Gradients* is Astrophonica’s first compilation and brings together its small but powerful roster with a string of close friends and allies, giving prominence to both well-known names — dBridge, DJ Earl, Stray, Om Unit under his Philip D Kick guise — and newcomers — Lewis James, Tusais, Touchy Subject, Tehbis.
Astrophonica’s ties to various established players are proudly on display with contributions from Richie Brains collaborators Sam Binga — the furious, clap-driven ‘BFT’ — and Stray — whose uplifting ‘Blink’ provides a ray of sunshine — as well as Exit boss dBridge, who indulges his love of sampling and breaks on the stripped back ’db vs The 45 King’. Reflecting Astrophonica’s love of Chicago footwork is ‘Statisfyee’, a hypnotic groover from Fracture and DJ Earl, Teklife member and a disciple of the late DJ Rashad, while Sully’s ‘Helios’ gets a rare remix from Philip D Kick, the footwork meets jungle alias of Om Unit.
Representing the label, Parisian dub scientist Moresounds and English producer Sully come with two different but complimentary junglistic experiments: the dark and percussive ‘Warriah’ and the expansive and rolling ‘We’re Here’. Meanwhile London’s Touchy Subject and Tehbis, the latest additions to Astrophonica, offer up two head-nodding burners with the bright and colorful ‘Cosmic Tales’ and the smoky grooves of ‘Alphabet Ooz’. Label founders Fracture & Neptune dig deep into their archive for ‘Whatever’, a previously unreleased track updated for 2017 that pays homage to Astrophonica’s roots with trademark attention to detail and an ear for rhythmic sensibilities. Fracture also flies solo with ‘Back Up In This’, a lean and aggressive dancefloor wrecker. Completing the picture are two new talents: Irish-born, London-based producer Lewis James displays his blend of cinematic compositions and hard-hitting beats on ‘Snook’ while Antwerp’s Tusais does an equally efficient job of pummeling the dancefloor with the menacing ‘Blackout’.
*Gradients* is a glorious celebration of Astrophonica’s growth as well as its stylistic roots and forward-thinking ethos. Each of the 13 tracks has been tested in the clubs for the past year to ensure an all-killer-no-filler experience. And as with previous releases, the compilation sports artwork from Utile Creative whose striking design adds an all-important visual touch to a new milestone for the label.
a1. Stray - Blink
a2. Moresounds - Warriah
a3. Touchy Subject - Cosmic Tales
b1. Sam Binga - BFT
b2. Fracture - Back Up In This
b3. Lewis James - Snook
c1. Fracture & Neptune - Whatever
c2. dBridge - dB vs 45 King
c3. Sully - We're Here
d1. Sully - Helios (Philip D Kick Remix)
d2. Tusais - Blakout
d3. DJ Earl x Fracture - Statisfyee
d4. Tehbis - Alphabet Ooz