- The release of another edition of Cocoon's annual alphabet series sometimes feels like Pancake Day: you probably forget it exists for most of the year, but it's always fun when it turns up. That said, it's not like the label keeps you fasting, given the rate at which it releases compilations—there's the annual Sound Of The Season series, the numbered mix albums from DJs like Chris Tietjen, and the Dots And Pearls collections. We've also recently had the Cocoon 100 compilation to mark the label's hundredth release—more than enough to keep those with an appetite for big-room tech house satisfied, if not positively stuffed.
Still, it's the alphabet series that's often the most interesting, particularly for DJs, as it presents 12 unmixed tunes from label artists and friends of the family on either vinyl or CD. Indeed, some of these tracks are only really of interest to DJs—they're dance floor tools perfectly calibrated for the club, and about as useful at home as inflatable nails. The driving squeaks of Cavaan's "Wildness" and the accelerating beats and ricochets of Sam Paganini's "Labyrinth" would certainly turn up the pressure on the dance floor. Alan Fitzpatrick's "For Tonight Fear Is All," with its synth crescendo and haunting vocal, would make a great opener or palate cleanser mid-set. But it's difficult to listen to them in isolation without thinking about what you'd mix in next.
There are moments, however, that work just as well in your headphones as on club speakers, and it's generally the better-known artists who produce the pick of the bunch. Ripperton's "Wet Dreams" shows his mastery of subtle euphoria, while Ricardo Tobar's "Gambetta" has all the fluttering rhythms and gauzy drones that made his 2013 Treillis album something of an overlooked gem. Best of all is Aril Brikha and Vince Watson's "VA2." It will come as no surprise that these two Detroit-obsessed producers have crafted a piece of soulful Transmat-style techno. To their credit, it's one that would do their Motor City idols proud.
Great as some of these tunes are, Compilation N is not an essential purchase—the last of those was probably 2010's J. But there's still enough quality here to suggest that Cocoon will run out of letters before they run out of decent music.
01. Konstantin Sibold & Leif Müller - Kolibri
02. Julian Perez - Over The Rain
03. Markus Fix - Geischa
04. Aril Brikha & Vince Watson - VA2
05. Alan Fitzpatrick - For Fear Tonight Is All
06. Cavaan - Wildness
07. Truncate - Workout
08. Sam Paganini - Labyrinth
09. Lucy - Luminous
10. Villanova - Les Gobelins
11. Ripperton - Wet Dreams
12. Ricardo Tobar - Gambetta