Local Wire

Various Artists

But will I be lost if I haven't heard volumes 1 through 9?

Unlike most compilations, which serve as little more than friendly handshakes with a dozen unfamiliar artists, King Size Dub is better taken as a cohesive whole than as a patchwork collection of tracks. Boiling electronic music down to its basest elements, the songs on King Size are remarkable because of how little happens in them. Where pop gives preference to the vocalist, on these tracks it's the bass that takes the melody while the keyboards and guitars are allowed only occasional, single-chord shadings. As a result, the songs have a brooding, ominous quality, the aural equivalent of a dark and surging ocean sporadically illuminated by flashes of lightning. It's the same Spartan sensibility that has been making Börk and Massive Attack albums interesting for the last nine or ten years, but while those records demand an almost academic appreciation, King Size has a warm sensual groove that is refreshingly unburdened by pretense. Musical structures are being toppled, sure, but you don't ever have to be troubled thinking about it. The slow-rolling bass and strobe-light synths ask only that you feel, and feel deep.

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J. Edward Keyes