- Britt and Amanda Brown's 100% Silk imprint championed the idea of dance-not-dance music at a crucial moment. Helping to launch the careers of artists like Ital and Octo Octa in 2011, the California label allowed producers from outside the dance music bubble to take a stab at it for the first time. Early records were odd and not always DJ-friendly, but they were approachable. They presaged a wave of new artists moving into the electronic realm with a DIY spirit and idiosyncratic reference points.
In 2017, 100% Silk has a more conventional house sound, but the label remains a stage for promising newcomers. With two exceptions, Sensate Silk comprises tracks from producers who've never appeared on 100% Silk before, some of whom have never even had a release.
Sensate Silk is a mix of artists we know—Keita Sano, Cromie—and names we don't, like Helios Mode and Westcoast Goddess. For the most part, though, everyone sounds like they're on the same level. The tape is full of plush, satin grooves, the kind of house music that's as good for driving as it is for dancing. The sound is so uniformly smooth that, were it not for each producer's quirks, it might wear out its welcome. The best moments come when artists create new wrinkles in the label's formula: the wistful sax and against-the-grain bassline of Cromie's "She Knew," the tingly acoustic guitar on Helios Mode's "When Love Wins."
PARC, a newcomer from Vancouver, steals the show with the 11-minute "Silk Road." It's also hard to argue with Westcoast Goddess's nine-minute finale, "Untitled Soul '98," whose retro breeziness is a nice contrast to the collection's more modern textures. And then there's Sage Caswell, who provides techno reinforcement with the brisk "Take A Day Call Back Later."
Two 100% Silk regulars deliver some of the compilation's most familiar and comforting sounds. Golden Donna—as Donny—gives us the irreverent "Roses," a piece of jubilant filter-house that sounds glib and easy, and all the better for it. Nackt appears with "Rising Tide," a cheery acid house tune that replaces the darker vibe of some of his productions with a zest that matches his recent record on The Nite Owl Diner. You'd be hard-pressed to find two producers that represent the label as succinctly.
Nackt died in December's horrific Oakland warehouse fire, at an event headlined by Golden Donna under the 100% Silk banner. This casts a shadow over Sensate Silk, which was announced before the events of December 2nd. But the album reaffirms what the label is all about: supporting young artists, DIY scenes and unpretentious dance music. 100% Silk sounds different than it did six years ago, but its scrappy attitude and outsider status remain as strong and inspiring as ever.
01. Keita Sano - With The Lights
02. Cromie - She Knew
03. Sage Caswell - Take A Day Call Back Later
04. Inoue Shirabe - Window Lights
05. Jack Novin - Mass Ave
06. Donny - Roses
07. Badia - Monoto
08. PARC - Silk Road
09. Helios Mode - When Love Wins
10. Nackt - Rising Tide
11. Westcoast Goddess – Untitled Soul '98