- If house music's always been the musical springboard for Dial, then the label's subsidiary, Laid, is their attempt to launch into the deeper machine-soul ends of the spectrum. Established with the vinylphiles in mind, Laid's until this point been wax only, releasing a series of quickly snatched up singles from artists like Rick Wade, John Roberts, Lowtec and Kassem Mosse. So it's no surprise that the news that the label would collect those recent artefacts onto a CD compilation struck the stringent (and often needlessly stiff) vinyl-only brigade as a back-turning maneuver, one that undermined the rarity of their hard-sought 12-inches. For home listeners and convenience seekers, though, the news was a blessing, a chance to collect most of Laid's almost unassailable back catalogue in one shiny round place.
Given its packaging as a virtual greatest hits for the label, hearing these ten tracks back to back just reinforces the run Laid's had over the last two-and-a-half years. More traditionally Detroit in timbre than the glassy European glides of Dial, Laid takes that label's aesthetic and forces its already wide open vistas into horizon-spread playgrounds. It's a sound, rhythmically at least, grubbier and muddier, one fitting for the roughened industrial Midwest which inspired it. But beneath all that grumbling are often silken, wonder-lit explorations of—and plays upon—the label's parent. It's hard to imagine a Laid without a Dial.
What started in spring of 2009 with a historical nod from Motor City legend Rick Wade in "Intelligence"—the Morgan Freeman-sampling soulful stomp of "Ricky's Groove" is included here—quickly found booming acclaim with John Roberts' "Blame," a dust-specked but gleaming romp of classical deep house that remains arguably the American's most alluring creation to date. Along the way, there's been swirling vocal-stunted warm-ups (Lowtec's "Use Me"), slow-pitched getaway house (Lawrence's "Precious Hall") and little pad-laced synthetic daydreams (Smallpeople's "A Place Called Dream" or Christopher Rau's "Soulful").
Kassem Mosse's "Untitled," on the other hand, is simultaneously gritty, funky and often breathtakingly beautiful. What begins with a grainy, grinding bump of a beat and dizzying vocal samples soon winds into a series of interlocked synth melodies that almost sound like the bastardized crossbreed of Lawrence and Juan Atkins. Black Jazz Consortium's "Applied Vibes," meanwhile, centers around a narcotized lunarscape underpinned by brawny echoing rhythms. It's a track which, if heard in a void, would be really difficult to pin to a year—or even an era. That's a fine testimony to the brand of distinctively retro-fitted futurism Laid has traced thus far. No matter where you stand on the vinyl/digital/CD divide, I think we can all agree that these ten luxurious gems deserve to be on the car/home/club/bathroom stereos of as many people as possible.
01. Lowtec - Use Me
02. Lawrence - Precious Hall
03. RNDM - Third Hand Smoke
04. John Roberts - Blame
05. Smallpeople - A Place Called Dream
06. Rick Wade - Ricky's Groove
07. Kassem Mosse - Untitled
08. Marcello Napoletano - Electronic Atmosphere
09. Christopher Rau - Soulful
10. Black Jazz Consortium - Applied Vibes