In this latest installment from London DJ, record exec., and tastemaker Gilles Peterson – Brownswood Bubblers 6 – is a highly-listenable and often enjoyable compilation. The album blends jazz, soul and dance into a diverse, satisfying experience, one worthy of repeated listens for all the right reasons.
For the uninitiated stateside, Peterson got his start on pirate radio and his esteem has steadily ballooned from there. He had a hand in developing the updated jazz-soul sounds that proliferated the early ’90s, including signing a young Jamiroquai to his Brownswood imprint. Today, he’s practically everywhere – cranking out radio shows, podcasts, running a label and bouncing to festivals. It should be said here then, that he’s excused for firing a couple of blanks in this otherwise loaded revolver of a record.
The compilation opens with bouncing synths on “Let’s Do It Again”, and the listener is immediately hooked. Sultry vocals over a soulful groove set the tone and the record is running away with your imagination. Peterson himself provides the old world-meets-new collision “Reality and Fantasy” remix – another gem.
Javelin helm the next track. The duo cut their teeth in warehouse shows in Providence, R.I., before taking their game to Brooklyn. Combining boombox aesthetics with contemporary soul and dance beats, their entry here isn’t a dud, per se, but compared to the diverse and impressive musicality on display throughout the album, it does fall short.
And occasionally, some of the other songs mire in that smooth jazz quicksand, slinking further and further into a song that goes nowhere. But any disappointment is quickly and easily forgotten. Most of the tracks stand on their own as effective, emotional statements. They also gel and groove together nearly flawlessly.
“Hope” by MdCL (that’d be Mark de Clive-Lowe), “Average Fruit” by Quadron and “Liiines” by Ghostpoet are all certifiable jams. But the best cut on the album belongs to Elou Elan and her stunning “Sunday Times”. An effusive, emotional oil painting, the song breaks your heart slowly.
Bubblers 6 further cements Peterson’s status as a preeminent musical cherry-picker. The record passes the test of being both an engaging listen and serving as ambient artwork, beautiful background noise. But more importantly, however, the compilation reminds us that there is so much beautiful music being made across the world, it’s almost a disservice to stop listening. At least that’s how I felt the moment before I hit ‘repeat’ and started the record over again.