The very first Future Sounds of Jazz compilation from Compost Records was released in 1995, and the label has crept its way to volume twelve this year – the first in five years – featuring a huge range of jazz, soul, house and more experimental electronic acts from across the globe. Including Sepalcure and Wareika side by side with lesser-known acts such as England’s Letherette, France’s Hypnolove, Lo Tide from Australia, as well as Anchorsong and Ragout De Lapin from Japan, the compilation clocks in at over two and a half hours across two discs. It’s not really something to take in one sitting – in fact I enjoyed it most a few days ago when I was walking and driving around the city on and off all day and was able to stop and start. The album is sequenced really well, and the highlights are spread out pretty evenly; I find myself returning to different sections each time I listen.
While I wouldn’t consider myself an authority on jazz history, I was fortunate enough to have Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy playing in my house growing up Future Sounds of Jazz doesn’t really remind me of this time so much anyway; I don’t think Compost are interested in capturing some sort of nostalgia for a particular jazz period so much as they’re trying to group various electronic acts that utilize various elements of jazz together to form a cohesive statement. Despite it being a pretty chilled out album, most of these songs are pretty groove based and have a certain propulsive movement to them.
There is plenty to like on this compilation – highlights include the Paper Tiger Remix of Scrimshire’s ‘Home’, which combines a fast-paced choppy garage beat with glitchy and wonky synths, only to eventually slow everything down to half speed, allowing Faye Houston’s super smooth vocals to take centre stage to stunning effect. Elsewhere Sepalcure’s ‘Fleur’ is a real pleasure, combining a heavy stuttering, mechanical beat with creamy vocal samples, with xylophone and strings thrown in for a great warm, soulful sound.
On the slightly stronger second half, there is ‘Uncountable Doors’ (A Green Meadow Remix) by Eden, which starts off sounding disjointed, but over the course of its eight minutes gets locked in a very tidy groove, with crisp drumming and bass heavy synths and chopped up vocal samples, reminiscent of Battles. Even groovier is ‘Sir Shina’ by Deep Space Orchestra, which sounds like an Avalanches’ off-cut in the best possible way, with speedy distorted bass-line combined and male vocals
Despite only five of the songs being made originally for the compilation, it maintains a surprisingly solid vibe throughout. And while I can’t imagine this being my favourite album of the year, that isn’t to understate how consistent and charmingly uncomplicated this album is. It can sometimes be hard for music like this to walk the line between being both pleasantly ambient, whilst also being creatively satisfying, but I think Compost more often than not nail it on this compilation.