by: Sean Boy
Like the inhabitants of the melting pot that is Los Angeles, the featured artists on Dublab Presents: Freeways, while based in LA, originate from diverse corners of the globe. Their diversity however, is limited to their places of birth and not their musical vision. Most of the songs could be classified as IDM tracks. Intelligent Dance Music—a subtler form of electronic music, concerned with innovative techniques and sounds to be listened to and enjoyed in your living room rather than obnoxious dance beats made to keep clubs packed and pumping.
The songs that do veer from the IDM sound, (the live and improvisational jazz vibe of “Soul Searchin’” from Yesterday’s New Quintet and Mia Doi Todd’s “Digital, Version 2.1” a mainly vocal track by a woman with a wonderfully odd way of tweaking the English language into almost unrecognizable, but beautiful sounds) gel surprisingly well with the other tracks. A testament to the compilers of this album and also to the versatility of Intelligent Dance Music—that it’s more an aesthetic and atmosphere than a pigeonholed genre.
The opening track from Languis & Fer Chloca, a duo from Buenos Aires, blends the organic and electronic with acoustic guitar work throughout and punctuated by clicks, beeps, and buzzes often found in IDM recordings.
One of dublab’s own DJs and newer UK-birthed/LA-based artist, Daedelus, has cut and pasted disparate sounds into the poignant creation entitled “A Mashnote.” Textured with both symphonic strings and the mundane taps on a computer keyboard, Daedelus is a fine example of this compilation’s ability to be both subtle and staggering.
No Los Angeles based compilation would be complete without members of the hip-hop underground represented. Divine Styler, Nowhereman (aka DJ Nobody), and newcomers Ammoncontact perform frantic rhymes, oceanic ambient sounds, and unhurried beats respectively.
Closing out the album is renowned percussionist and hand drummer, Adam Rudolf, and the song “Nawa,” a seemingly pure organic track filled with various percussive instruments. Intelligent Dance Music that is neither danceable or electronic but does what good IDM should, and this compilation does, draws you into a world where the only option you have is to listen. Listen. Something that should happen more often in the sprawl of Los Angeles.