September 27, 2001

Test Spins: Dublab

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Freeways, the first album sponsored by Internet radio station Dublab, is a sampler of some of the best electronic artists in the LA area. DNTEL’s “If I Don’t Return” pairs jittery, pulsating tones with a warm synth line. The vocals repeat, “If I don’t return/ don’t cry/ you’ll be fine/ you’ll be on your own” over the glitchy percussion, creating a truly unsettling atmosphere. Mia Doi Todd’s “Digital, Version 2.1” is similarly dark and turbulent, featuring heavy tribal beats behind the singer’s unique and striking layered vocals.

Divine Styler takes a more subdued approach on “Shen,” with a fast and bubbly background perfectly complementing Styler’s rapid whisper-rapping. “Don’t Get Up Again” by Damon Aaron illustrates still another approach: acoustic guitar, droning strings and hip-hop beats provide a sparse setting for Aaron’s soulful, tortured vocals. Freeways is an eclectic album with room for a diverse array of styles, and many of these artists deserve success beyond this comp.

Archived article by Ed Howard