Various Artists

Icons, Vol. 1

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Like most of the labels distributed by the Netherlands' Rush Hour, Glasgow's Emoticon deals in productions that trade in the warm and moody, flitting to and fro from lush Detroit/U.K.-influenced techno to densely layered West London-inspired broken beat. Icons, Vol. 1 is Emoticon's first CD release, a roundup of the label's best, previously vinyl-only tracks released throughout 2001 and 2002. A small percentage of the inclusions slip into edgeless niceness, but there's plenty of evidence here that the label should be one to keep an eye on for quite some time. The disc is wisely bookended by two of its top tracks, both of which come from the same 12" produced by Future Beat Alliance. "Head Ways" is a stunning seven-minute track with so many elements and subtle, complex shifts in direction that it takes several plays to get a grip on, fitting in nods to the early Detroit innovators as well as those currently breaking boundaries in West London. The closing track, "FBA Theme," is an equally ensnaring track of downtempo breakbeat melancholia. Another batch of tracks, from Scape One, CiM, and Connective Zone, make for highlights, but none of them can compete with those bookends. Still, this is a good way to get in touch with a fine techno label.

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