Compilation projects are usually an illustrious affair. While listeners get a taste of an eclectic mix of musicians and artists, compilations also act as a time capsule of a moment in time, showcasing the best and brightest of what a particular scene has to offer.
Compilation ‘Untitled’ – featuring 18 artists and musicians such as Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, Wu-Lu, LayFullstop, Ego Ella May and Kojey Radical – across the UK, arrives with all the majesty it promises, capturing one of the most thrilling moments in underground music.
Inspired by the life and work of ground-breaking Jean-Michel Basquiat, the seven-track project pairs established and emerging artists, while also traversing a number of sounds such as jazz, rap, soul, dub, experimental and electronic.
It opens with ‘Legend’, featuring Wu-Lu, Lex Amor and Ego Ella May. At first it’s a slow, crawling rhythm led by Amor’s spoken word, but at the halfway point it picks up the pace, aided by May’s vocals. The beauty of a track like this is that the artists were all previously affiliated, one way or another – so each selection and pairing feels purposeful. The established leading the emerging, or in some cases, vice versa.
With compilation projects such as these, there’s often a London-bias, but here a level of care has been taken to ensure the UK’s represented beyond the borders of the M25. The appearance of Manchester-based MC and vocalist LayFullstop on ‘Broadcast by Chocolate’ (who featured on Children of Zeus’ LP ‘Travel Light’) is one of the project’s highlights, combining her dexterous, tongue-tying wordplay with Moroka and AJ Kwame’s light rock production.
There are darker moments on ‘Untitled’, such as the Nubya Garcia, Joe Armon-Jones and Mala-led track ‘Scratch & Erase’, and depending on how you want to interpret that title, it relates heavily to the current sociopolitical climate of the UK.
While the project is heavily inspired by Basquiat’s work, its complex and multi layered soundscape represents a moment in the underground scene where boundaries and lines between sounds are crumbling. Perhaps that’s the sign of the post-internet times, but ‘Untitled’ also reflects a group of musicians and artists who look to each other for inspiration.
Words: Jesse Bernard
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