Review: VA - Space Invaders (Blaq Numbers)
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
I've been a bit of a devoted follower of the German label Blaq Numbers since hearing Interstate's soulful, lo-fi creation 'Mind Games' back in 2018. Now on their 28th label release, with 'Space Invaders' forming their 9th cassette release, this is their strongest compilation so far.
Inviting a bunch of label regulars including Larry Houl, Explorer Of The Humankind and Marco Lazovic, alongside some new faces, 'Space Invaders' is a journey through intergalactic palettes that taps into the veins of hip hop, house, breakbeat, downtempo, Balearic, jazz and funk. There is a retro, 70s and 80s edge to the compilation, which can be felt in the funk basslines of George John's contribution 'Solo' and Larry Houl's 'The Vinyl Frontier' which also seems to draw on influences from Britfunk. This throwback sits perfectly with the cassette format of the VA, something which I found myself being a bit skeptical of before listening, purely due to the fact that not many people own cassette players anymore. However, it's a fun little edition to the compilation and a trend that seems to be making its way back into the underground of the electronic scene recently.
The VA is not all about the old school. The compilation cleverly mixes the past and present, simultaneously meshing futuristic sound design with retro beats. Beaming us into the future Marco Lazovic's 'From Here To Eternity' is a perfect example of this with squelchy acid lines which just beg to be played at 90s style rave and fresh clean breaks and trancey synths which call to the recent resurge of a sound that labels like Kalahari Oyster Cult and X-Kalay are pushing.
Flipping onto the B Side, the listener is greeted by gorgeous cosmic keys in my personal favourite 'Little Girl' by Malik Kassim & Midnight Flavour, a jam that whisks you away from the stresses of modern day life and is made for a languid late afternoon chillin' with its soft muted trumpet and lazy funked up bass line. Another favourite comes in the form of Duktus and Byte Chops' 'Sloppy Jam', a broken number which seems not to be a fully fleshed out idea but rather a unscripted session, something which can be a nice break from other more deliberate creations.
Finishing things up London based producer Native Cruise draws on Italo and balearic influences in 'Distance Planes' - a shout to his regular Noods show - in a blissed out and atmospheric contribution which truly does compliment the 'Space Invaders' title, as a man gliding across the moon of another planet fills my mind.
Clearly creativity is still strong even in the midst of this global pandemic.
'Space Invaders' drops on the 29th of October on Bandcamp. You can pre-order it HERE.