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Album Review: Various Artists – Proximity One: Narrative of a City

Album Review: Various Artists – Proximity One: Narrative of a City

Various Artists – Proximity One: Narrative of a City
Proximal Records: 2010

The worst part of album reviews is actually not the wack music. It’s when you get something really excellent that forces you to second-guess, over and over, whether or not you’re really about to give it a perfect rating. Flaws are a blessing when deadlines are involved.

So here’s the bad news, right up front: there are no standout tracks on this album. Over the course of 18 straight songs, it’s spooky how consistent this mix is. That’s where the bad news ends, though, because everything here is superb. The soundscape is experimental and entertaining but everything is rooted in funky, genius-level drum programming.

My favorite part about this album? Most of the music here is from artists I’ve never heard of. Dam Funk and Daedelus are familiar friends for my headphones, but there’s a lot of new names here…really damn odd names. Sahy Uhns, Teebs, Juj, and the pointlessly punctuated [Post-foetus], too. There’s also a “Dr. Strangeloop” — one of those names that seems like it should have been already taken, decades ago.

What all of these cats have in common is a sense of play. The album does a pitch-perfect job of spotlighting the Los Angeles scene, because as each track unfolds, it feels like something between a big conversation and a sprawling jam session. You can hear the mutual influences, the motifs and tones that get flipped in completely different direction by each producer.

I’m sure that in the weeks to come, favorites will emerge and a few of the more left field tracks will get old. Just the same, I’m very impressed that after five front-to-back listening sessions, my first impression still feels like the right one. This is an unusually coherent, rock-solid compilation that does great justice to the Los Angeles instrumental scene right now. I had a great damn time listening to this and I highly recommend it — this is “Flawless Victory” material, right here.

★★★★☆
4 out of 5

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