Considering the state of electronic music these days, it’s easy to get excited about Smalltown Supersound. Unlike the simplistic, designed-only-to-make-you dance tracks pumping out of mainstream radio, this local label stands for a purist tradition. Their releases are more detailed and their remix work adds exciting touches to new music. With everything from pure club music to ska and funk they don’t discriminate when it comes to style, pick and choosing among the best.
Label samplers are seriously underrated if you want to get into a new type of music or an unknown label. I remember when I stumbled upon the Anticon label sampler and was introduced to an underworld of hip hop I did not even know existed. It is neat to get a small bite of everything to steer you in the right direction. Of course, everything on the label sampler might not hit the target, but a few select winners will always make the product worth it. The Smalltown sampler carries weight in the sense that the majority of the tracks are strong numbers you want to hear again, the weak links can be counted on one hand.
For an outsider to the Oslo club scene names like Lindstrøm, DiskJokke and Todd Terje never meant much to me. You can hear them name-dropped by DJ friends, but their tunes hardly ever hit the main stages or the domain of public radio. Their music is representative of both a tasteful disco/funk revival and chillout electronica, something that embodies Smalltown and this sampler. As I get snippets of their work throughout the album, I get surprised at how easy it is to get into it. The last time I tried to seriously like electronic music I must have been too young, too hooked on punk rock and aggression. Smalltown sounds tailored to my musical growth, a chillout tent for the slightly reluctant twentysomething that secretly wants to dance a little.
Guitar purists and critics always bash the electronic scene for sounding too…well…electronic. When it comes to artists signed to Smalltown they; in the words of MC Hammer, can’t touch this. The instrumentation is wonderful, not only is the production clear, the instruments sound real and organic, like they are played with full bands.
The tracks that bring the funk are definitely the winners on the album. London’s Idjut Boys provide a great soundtrack for late night city cruising and Mungolian Jetset overflow with old school Motown feel. Stevie would be proud. Honorable mentions also go to ARP with their detailed and interesting mystery beats. Pure soundtrack material.
Some downers exist. Bjørn Torske chills me to boredom, Toy drifts into random Nintendo jazz, Razika might just be a little too nice, and Drivan is way too trendy and way too Swedish.
Smalltown Supersound have already proved, both nationally and internationally, that they deliver. If you have still not caught the train you might want to catch it before it derails.