Various Artists

OM 15: Celebrating 15 Years of Om Records

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San Francisco's Om label, despite its new age-y moniker, has made a place for itself in the dance music marketplace by encouraging anything but meditation: on the contrary, Om's consistent call is for rear ends to be lifted out of seats, taken straight to the dancefloor, and shaken with abandon. Even when delivering more downtempo grooves, the feel is always more social than mystical or contemplative. What has always set the label apart from its competition is its catholicity: where other imprints focus on house, techno, breaks, drum'n'bass, or neu-dub, Om has very happily embraced whatever its staff seems to think will be fun. That's not to say that there isn't a recognizable Om sound; on the contrary, to hear a track from J Boogie's Dubtronic Science or King Kooba or Kaskade is to immediately recognize a clean, colorful, and robustly funky sound that is practically an Om trademark. This excellent retrospective suffers slightly from a couple of baffling omissions (no Fred Everything? no Kaskade?) but makes up for them with some classic material that even fans may have forgotten. On the uptempo disc are such brilliant bangers as "Together" by J Boogie's Dubtronic Science (here in a slamming funk remix by Crazy P), the swinging "Chapter Two" by Pezzner, and a chugging funk-soul vocal by Aqeel on Nacho Marco's "Move You." The chill-out disc is equally fine, and really not much less funky, offering flavors that range from reggae (the horn-driven dub of "Like a Tree" by Idan K & the Movement of Rhythm) to laid-back electronic pop (James Curd's "Wills and the Won'ts"), and jazzy electro ("Please You" by Atjazz). Even Alland Byallo's glitchy "Head First Omega" settles into a nice, gentle groove once its weird sound effects get sorted out. Rarely has this much variety sounded so collectively distinctive, or this much funk sounded so sweet and friendly.

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