Various Artists - Context Unravelled
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Various Artists
Context Unravelled

Although I own a record player, I rarely find the time to actually pull out a slab of vinyl and lovingly place it on the platter for a spin. It's so much easier to drop a CD into the tray or slide one into my laptop and listen to something while cooking dinner or sitting at my computer and doing some reading. It's hard to replace the artwork and tactile feel of vinyl, though, and sometimes I feel a smidge bad just letting my records sit in a crate for 99% of their lives. Because of the above reason, I almost always love CD releases like Context Unravelled, which collect a bunch of vinyl-released tracks into one convenient mix for me to peruse.

Founded by Seth Horvitz (aka Sutekh) back before the turn of the century, Context has been cranking out great music (16 releases, for those keeping track) for years now, with releases from Safety Scissors, Twerk, Kit Clayton, Murcof, Portable, Sutekh himself, and many others (including remixes from Matmos and Timeblind). Context Unravelled finds Sutekh collecting 31 tracks since the inception of the label and swirling them all together into a seamless 27 track, 70-minute mix that really does a great job of showcasing the wide variety of music that the label has released to date.

Opening with the sonar ping jazz of Dave Aju's "Limbo," things quickly get rolling with a short selection of Murcof vs Twerk before rolling right into the almost afro-house of Portable's "Adhesive." Even though things keep on clicking with a clean, precise feel, there's plenty of variety, with the digital funk of "Baby I Want" by Suite K, the minimal hard house of Wang Inc's "Wood, Water, And Fire" and the off-kilter electro-stabs of Safety Scissor's "Rubber Stamp."

Although the release could have probably stayed interesting had it kept on banging, there's a nice breather about halfway through as it cracks off into a Matmos remix of Sutekh's "Toy Piano" and finally into Murcof's 4/4 cinematic thump of "Marmol" (which feels like a huge comedown after the micro-house on the first half of the release). From there, the disc winds up slowly, with some instrumental hip-hop inspired tracks and a warm ambient breather before kicking things back up with the oddly entertaining spazzed-out sample techno of Kit Clayton vs Murcof and some warmer, more melodic tracks to close things out (including the minimal euro sounds of Twerk vs Portable). As mentioned above, Context isn't just a dance label, and this mix features the full spectrum, going from quiet to loud and then back down again. If you haven't heard anything from the label (or only a few things and want to explore more), this release is about as good as it's going to get. Lots of big name artists and an excellent mix and track selection make for a very solid listen.

rating: 8.2510
Aaron Coleman 2006-01-19 17:45:47