Various Artists

(Planet Mu)


To mark 25 years at the forefront of leftfield electronic music, Planet Mu take a decidedly forward-facing approach on PlanetMµ25, rejecting a rose-tinted legacy package in favour of highlighting both newer faces and familiar mavericks. 

Footwork is prominent on the compilation; a fitting reminder of the label’s major role in introducing the Chicago sound to the wider world, most notably with the Bangs & Works compilations at the frontend of the last decade. Pioneers DJ Nate and Jana Rush return with highlights, the former supplying a footwork masterclass further twisted by Basic Rhythm, and the latter demonstrating her invigorating disregard for the parameters of even the loosest of genres – the aptly titled ‘Mynd Fuc’ is a melee of crusty game FXunstable percussion and stunted loops barely holding together.

Elsewhere, Speaker Music and AceMo grapple with jazz elements on ‘Techno is a Liberation Technology’, with distant horns freely yearning atop stuttering percussion, quietly arresting in its understated complexity. The brooding, chuggier cuts from Rian Treanor and Ital Tek also bring satisfying contrast to the more frantically-paced tracks, though they’re suitably abrasive in their own way.

Not every selection is forward-facing in a radically new sonic sense, but the collection successfully presents the continued ethos of the label as a champion ofa weirder, rawer approach to underground music. If this compilation shows us anything, it’s that the most important thing is what comes next.

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