Rating: 6.5 / Format: CD/3×12" / Label: Planet Mu

With Wild Angels, Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs turns her attentionfrom the dubstep she holds so dear (and has been the focus of her’Experimental’ show for so long) and towards the ‘wonky’ wave ofhip-hop producers that she’s also helped establish over the last couple of years. Amongst the rest of Wild Angels’ content, the flailing percussion of Hudson Mohawke and the slouching, unquantised beats of Mike Slott and Rustie no longer carry the peculiar otherness that they did in 2007: the bubbling, percolating synths that were once such a unique characteristic of their sound are deployed by virtually all of the producers compiled here. As such, the compilation documents ‘wonky”s evolution from a select set of producers to an influencial genre in its own right [appropriately, the cover is designed by Dom Sum – a fixture in Rustie/Hudson’s LuckyMe crew – Ed].

Maybe Wild Angels‘ most telling characteristic, however, is that somewhere around its mid-point, the record presents some difficulties – the sort that several commentators have identified as this music’s Achilles’ heel. It’s not a fault in the track selection or the sequencing, which are excellent; the problem would appear to be with the music itself. After an hour of sustained listening, ‘wonky’, or whatever you want to call it, starts to sound too synthetic, too cluttered and perhaps a little emotionally disengaged.

The fact that this compilation ultimately triumphs though, is due to the way it responds to this. The album’s final third, beginning with Darkstar’s desolate refix of ‘Videotape’ and ending with Teebs’ ‘WLTA’ introduce a strand of cinematic, emotive electronica which combines grime’s sonic dynamism with J Dilla, acoustic instrumentation and discernable vocals to stunning effect – the spacious, bucolic contributions from Sunken Foal and Floating Points in particular providing evidence of this genre’s malleability and potential.

Colin McKean

Mary Anne Hobbs myspace



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