Throne Of Blood’s ‘Moon Rock’ series kicked off right at the peak of the ambient resurgence in 2014. Throughout the 90’s ambient was a natural bedfellow of dance music, often finding a home in smaller annexes away from main dancefloors to provide a refuge for the ragged and weary. As the naughties intruded, these rooms found themselves unceremoniously dumped in favour of more kick drums and more headlines, and ambient’s home listening market was pushed to one side in favour of Warp’s electronic trailblazing and the likes of Ninja Tune and Mo’Wax’s hip-hop climes.
Seemingly forever tarred as deeply unfashionable, ambient somehow not only wormed its way back into view – through a crack in the door provided by a growing fascination with abstract drone, verging on musique concrète, in the middle of this current decade – but had a rebirth as emphatic as the proverbial phoenix from the flames.
The Moon Rock series is as classic an ambient compilation as you could ever get, however it is one that could only exist in today’s climate. Quality multi-disciplined artists were a rare breed back in the nineties and a transgression away from the template for house producers usually meant an obligated lump of coffee table soul or R&B-lite providing a break from the metronome on a full album. However here, on their series, Throne Of Blood have managed to pull together some of the finest dance floor rocking producers to sit against more traditionally chill out inclined artists, and familiar names have been raising the bar just that little bit further each time.
"This fourth entry in the series is the most lavish yet, spanning three vinyl with a huge array of contributors from series first timers to firm friends of the label."
This fourth entry in the series is the most lavish yet, spanning three vinyl with a huge array of contributors from series first timers to firm friends of the label. Scroll down the track listing and you’ll pluck out plenty for intrigue – Danny Passarella of Passarella Death Squad fame, Fila Brazillia’s Steve Cobby, Willie Burns in Black Deer guise, M>O>S man MA Spaventi, and house favourite Moscoman. Let’s just say it is as vast and as it is varied.
On to cherry picking highlights and an early shining start is quickly apparent in Jabru ‘Tartarus 808 (Solid Spiel Mix)‘, a track that is ambient in its most classically identifiable form. You’ll be casting your mind back to nineties heyday compilations, the works of Biosphere and Scanner, quickly rolling back the days to when you’d find ambient sharing headlines and cover CDs alongside the expected dancefloor fodder.
At the other end of the mood spectrum is the more earthly ‘Exquisite Corpse‘ by Craig Bratley, which is underpinned by some simple hi-hats although the piano absolutely drives the track. There is a certain swaggering triumphant nature that makes it feel like it could have roots in peak Hacienda days Manchester yet it is dreaming of beachside retirement at the Cafe Del Mar.
"Brain Machine fully embracing their cosmic leaning sensibilities with something dredged up from the most dimly lit quadrant of the galaxy on Transit Zone."
Hot off the back of an excellent outing on Emotional Response last year, Cass. goes fully horizontal with the breathy textures of ‘Ohayou Gozaimasu‘, which is then followed by the dramatic phasing power chords and space birds of Gilb’r ‘Arpeggio Island‘. We have diversity away from pure beatlessness with moments like Warden CA ‘Something Happens Here‘ and Cale Parks ‘36 Questions Sunset‘. You’ll find yourself entranced by the kitsch shuffles and middle distance reverb of the former, or the quiet dignity of the latter whose 4/4 kick slowly stridings underneath its gentle cosmic arps, drenched in sunrise positivity.
Also of note is are iris widening moments such as when your ears are perked by the classic wavetable work on Man Power ‘Mtz‘, or Magic Mountain High’s off the wall sci-fi synth freestyle on ‘Wholetone Movement 1‘, and Brain Machine fully embracing their cosmic leaning sensibilities with something dredged up from the most dimly lit quadrant of the galaxy on ‘Transit Zone‘.
Effectively, vast and all-encompassing is the final word here. Moon Rock Volume 4 is possibly the best chill out compilation you can get that is also committed to vinyl. Eternally comfortable to just slip into, it befits chilly early mornings as much as it does a hazy afternoon. And it is especially suited to those moments where you have had to briefly – relatively speaking – summarise a twenty track chill-out compilation which has next to no weak links in its duration. Time for a sit down.
Moon Rock Volume 4 is out now, order a copy from Juno.
A1. Max Pask – Salle Z
A2. Jabru – Tartarus 808 (Solid Spiel Mix)
A3. Danny Passarella – Carousel Rising
B1. Steve Cobby – Arvan (Out Take)
B2. Black Deer – Xomputer
B3. Bird Of Paradise – Centavos
C1. Moscoman – The Edge Of Earth
C2. Cass. & Stijn Hüwels – Ohayou Gozaimasu
C3. Gilb’r – Arpeggio Island
C4. Maximilian Skiba – General Daimos
D1. Cale Parks – 36 Questions Sunset
D2. Craig Bratley – Exquisite Corpse
D3. Man Power – Mtz
E1. Vactrol Park – Islands Of The Delta
E2. Warden CA – Something Happens Here
E3. Not Ssandoz – Two
F1. Magic Mountain High – Wholesome Movement 1
F2. Brain Machine – Transit Zone
F3. Ma Spaventi – Autumn Ambient
F4. Aris Kindt – The Consul
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