July 12, 2009

Mule Electronic various artists - My Favorite Things Vol. 1 & 2 (2008,9)

Mule Musiq is a relatively new Japanese house label, along with sub-labels Mule Electronic and Endless Flight, exploring deep, jazzy, dubby, retro-tinged techno territory. Since '05, they have been releasing new 12"s roughly every month, as well as several full-length albums and compilations. I first heard the name Mule Musiq when I encountered a 12" by Kuniyuki featuring two extended remixes by Theo Parrish with a great, blunted jazz-house sound. Soon after, I noticed new 12"s and remixes by Kompakt alumnae including Lawrence and DJ Koze, and CD compilations featuring vinyl tracks from each label, including the excellent Mule Musiq "I'm Starting To Feel OK" collection from last year. Mule Electronic compiled its releases in a pair (so far) of CDs entitled "My Favorite Things", and both manage to pull-off a totally listenable, progressive-minded, cohesive package of great tracks. I have to admit that I have very specific tastes in dance music which don't necessarily make sense, but in general I can state that I get turned off by vocals, dramatic/dark chord progressions and aggressive/noisy sonics. I tend to gravitate to the "deep", more soulful, melodic and chilled-out side of the house spectrum, but I also like to dance, so I am always searching for the right blend of deep and energetic. Mule Musiq takes the melodic tech-house sound established by Kompakt, and moves into disco and '80s italo sounds, jazz downtempo beats and clearly-Theo-Parrish-inspired tracks, plus references to modern dubtechno and minimal sounds. Many of the Mule artists are new to me, but I found the majority of the tracks very catchy and dynamic. I particularly enjoy the slow, head-nodding beats of Koss, a side project of jazz-guy Kuniyuki in an ambient techno style, and the '80s-vibe meets futuristic tech-house of Tony Lionni, Isolee and Audision. Volume 1 is a bit more uptempo and danceable, while Vol. 2 is more chilled-out and slow-grooving, but each features a high quality selection of modern dance artists, plus some nice moments of Kompakt-style pop ambience. Another label to watch!