Various Artists – The 12” Album (Fresh Up)


Label founder Ed Upton of DMX Krew fame originally set up Fresh Up in 2010 with the stated goal of focusing on new-but-old-sounding electro, disco and library music releases, and to date all of the label’s releases have been strictly limited to seven inch vinyl. Given that there really isn’t too much in the way of real estate on a 7”, this download only compilation ‘The 12” Album’ celebrates the labels’ 15th release and sees 13 tracks from the label’s catalogue receiving the extended remix treatment from Upton himself. As a snapshot of Fresh Up’s activities to date, it’s certainly a suitably classy intro point. As you’d expect, a lot of the tracks here adhere fairly closely to Ed DMX’s established eighties electro-funk aesthetic, but there’s certainly a fair bit of stylistic diversity on display here. Fresh Up Players offer up what’s easily this compilation’s most raw funk offering with ‘Blip Culture’ as gritty live drum breaks power beneath noodling clavinet keys, limber bass runs and jagged guitar stabs, the end result calling to mind some previously lost 45 from the Jimmy Castor Bunch more than anything from the past decade.

Indeed, it’s these meticulous homages that form a large part of the appeal here. Yellow Peril Disco Group’s ‘Bamboo Disco’ meanwhile sits closer to Luke Vibert’s Kerrier Disco alter-ego as thick analogue bass arpeggios roll against zapping mechanistic drum machine rhythms and YMO-esque vocoders, before bright synth riffs start to drag things off into more colourful Italo-disco territory, while BBII’s ‘Car Chase (Rhodes Version)’ provides the incidental music for some imaginary eighties cop show as neon synth trails bend against a driving funk backing of programmed drums and thick Moog bass, setting the controls straight towards the likes of Harold Faltermeyer. There’s also a fair chunk of material here from DMX Krew himself, with ‘Do It All Nite’ offering up a thick electro workout traced with acid squiggles as icy Whodini-esque synths blip away against vocoded MC vocals, darting funk riffs and echoing hanclaps. You’ll be convinced that it’s actually 1987 outside after listening to this.


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