VA: Project Mooncircle 10th Anniversary Compilation
Project Mooncircle

What we've got here is the proverbial embarrassment of riches, thanks to the kind folks at Project: Mooncircle. Consider: the 10th Anniversary release comes with no less than thirty-two tracks (and an additional thirteen in digital bonus form), and for those with sufficiently deep pockets there's a specially designed box version dressed up with a light-reflecting varnish, too. Having issued roughly a hundred releases by all manner of forward-thinking producers scattered around the globe, the Berlin-based label has good cause to celebrate. Some of those participating have been with the label since its start (CYNE, Manuvers, Jahbitat), while others (Robot Koch, fLako) have, over time, become synonymous with the label. For added spice, the release includes tracks by guests like Jehst and Dday One.

Many of the label's artists have their fingers firmly on the pulse, such as fLako, whose heady bass science excursion, “Jekyll & Pride,” is just one of many stand-outs. Dday One (Udeze Ukwuoma) is up to his usual tricks on “Aquarius,” which weaves a variety of samples (flutes, choir vocals, speaking voices, jazz drumming) into a mind-bending collage. Also included are strong outings by Robot Robinson (“Wave”), 40 Winks (“Only Love”), Sun Glitters (a prototypically soulful head-turner “Insane”) , and Sweatson Klank (formerly beatmeister Take) (“It's All In Your Head”).

You'll find virtually everything under the instrumental hip-hop sun, so to speak, in the collection. There's grime-laden vocal hip-hop (Jehst's “Australian”), slinky boom-bap (Sense of The Q4's “Burned Bridges,” Ichiro_'s “Kaedematsushima”), and deep dubstep mutations (DZA's “Wind Waker,” EAN's “Pictarus”). On the mellower tip, there's “Closer,” a sparkling slice of dusty instrumental hip-hop courtesy of Christoph El' Truento, and “Part. I,” a texturally deep exercise in dreamy swoon from Memoosh (Memotone & Soosh). In fact, some tracks are so luscious and texturally rich (e.g., Sorrow's “Distant Recall,” Krts's “Heartache,” Sina.'s “Feels Like Home”), they're like sales pitches for a new genre intent on bridging hip-hop, soulful balladry, and ambient soundscaping.

It's pretty much impossible to do justice to the compilation in a review, given the huge number of artists and material involved (the thirty-two-track version offers up more than two hours of quality music), but suffice it to say that any listener who's tuned in to Project: Mooncircle before now shouldn't miss out on this definitive collection.

March 2012