Various Artists, Fifteen Years of Hospital Records

Lee Smith

By Lee Smith

on 11.30.11 in Reviews

Dance compilations are less essential than they once were, so it takes a major brand to put together a collection capable of bucking that trend. The U.K. label Hospital is one of the few drum ‘n’ bass imprints to warrant a bumper retrospective, their trademark knack for scoring hits without sacrificing credibility establishing them as one of breakbeat music’s grand institutions.

The label famed for raising the global profile of drum ‘n’ bass takes stock and looks forward

Accordingly, Cyantific’s mix of the Hospital back catalogue is the best place to start, for both newcomers and vets. Heavy on big tracks from long-serving Hospital figureheads High Contrast, Logistics and London Elektricity, it’s unafraid to temper furious beats with lush melodies and unabashed soulfulness. Crossover anthems like the Matrix and Futurebound remix of Nu:Tone’s “System” keep the drama high, combining irrepressible vocal hooks and hyper-kinetic rhythms and rumbles, while rough and raw early outings like High Contrast’s “If I Ever” wear their age well.

The accompanying volume of fresh exclusives continues the widescreen directive, with song-led cuts like Fred V and Grafix’s “Find My Way” and Nu:Tone’s remix of Adele rustling up against the darker instrumental moods of Royalston, Blokhe4d and Gridlock. Loud and direct, but rarely abrasive — and always funky — there’s plenty here to suggest that the label famed for raising the global profile of drum ‘n’ bass still has much to offer.