I have a lot of friends who are very skeptical of new musical genres, especially when said new musical styles are beginning to be fashionable. They make fun of my willingness — sometimes ill-considered — to jump on new stuff on the slimmest of recommendations. That’s fair enough — there’s always something new coming down the pipe, especially from England, whose primary export these days seems to be new genres, and most of it is crap.
But I’m addicted to new music, always have been. Back when brick and mortar record stores were the only place to buy new music, new release Tuesday found me down at the shop, trying to figure out what newness was also the goodness. Right now, the Internet is here to spread stuff at the speed of light, so the insane recombinant bubbling up of new things is impossible to follow in it’s entirety.
Which is why I think Mary Ann Hobbs is an international treasure. As a radio DJ and media personality she’s the only person I know of currently who brings the adventurous spirit of John Peel forward into the new century. This compilation doesn’t just distill just Hobbs’ own enthusiasm and taste, it pulls together outlandish creative impulses from all over, from the woozy post-hip hop of Starkey & Nosaj Thing, to the new school 2 step of Gemmy, to the chill dubbiness of Hyetal. Some of the artists here barely have any releases out, and some of them I’ve never even heard of. But I’ve no doubt that the artists represented here will all be much better known in a year or two. There really isn’t a weak track in the bunch.
For not having contributed a single note to this release, it’s hard, if you’re familiar with Hobbs’ Breezeblock sets or video reports, not to feel her presence when you listen. Her infectious enthusiasm for new artists is hard to resist. Living in the US it’s hard to imagine there ever being a similar media personality here, combing through hundreds of demos and promos, looking for the best of the new and unknown. This compilation has the scope and ambition of the legendary Warp “Artificial Intelligence” series, and is a worthy successor.