Various Artists

A Watching Wilder Edit

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There's a mighty fine line between artistic inscrutability and plain old willful obfuscation, and a label that puts out a various-artists compilation called A Watching Wilder Edit can fairly be said to be balancing precariously on that line. No matter. What counts is content, and you can always depend on Oxygen Music Works to keep things interesting in that area. This compilation gives a good overview of the label's beat-oriented offerings, from the zen drum'n'bass of Small Fish with Spine to Height 611's ambient trip-hop. It's always fun to find music that moves both your booty and your brain, and that's what you get here. "Car Chase," by Artificial, grooves along nicely on a retro-funk bassline with subtle hints of jazz flute in the background, but also skids off into strange, echoey alleyways from time to time; Lo Phat Hi Fi's very digital-sounding "Space Fritters" seems about as aptly named as any track on this album; Small Fish with Spine weighs in with the immortal "I Hate You," which prominently features a silky female voice that flutters in and out, dubwise, while a gently propulsive breakbeat keeps the silt off the bottom of the mix. Everything here is interesting enough to reward your attention, but most of it is smooth and consistent enough that it won't distract you from your reading. That's a recommendation.

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