Revisiting Our Favorite Various Artist Compilations of 2020
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Ahead of the release of our first various artist EP, here are some of our favorite compilations by other labels that have shaped 2020 to be a stellar year for electronic music.
This Friday, December 18th, Satellite Era will release the first edition of Distant Arrays - a new audio/visual series featuring different artists from around the planet. The overall goal of this project is to diversify our collection of experimental IDM and club music.
Various artist compilations play a very important role in the netlabel ecosystem, serving as a way to both showcase a label's roster to new listeners and highlight a new signee's potential to their active community. When searching for inspiration regarding the direction of our forthcoming project, we turned to some of our favorite collectives leading the way in forward-thinking electronic music. Though there were many compilations to be excited about this year, we have selected our 10 favorite ones listed below, ordered by release date
Seagrave - Fugitive Pieces
Released on June 1st, 2020
London-based label Seagrave has been known to deliver club music that resides more on the experimental side of the electronic sphere. Fugitive Pieces, their latest various artist compilation and possibly strongest release yet, pairs admired newcomers on their roster like Ice_Eyes with a guestlist of legends such as ScanOne. From the distinct lineup of artists and songs (including a menacing breakbeat track by Etch to begin the album), to the incredible graffiti artwork for the cover by the infamous Skore79, the compilation is a perfect fit for DJs looking to introduce some experimental gems to their live sets and music collectors all around.
1985 - Edition 3
Released on June 5th, 2020
On the forefront of the drum 'n' bass universe is UK-based label 1985, the brainchild of renowned artist Alix Perez. On Edition 3, the final installation of a three-part compilation series that started back in 2018, the label reaches further past their roster of talented producers to recruit a new wave of artists that align with their established sound. Known for touching on both sides of the drum 'n' bass spectrum with soulful and minimal tracks coexisting, their newest compilation is an obvious nod towards a newer direction: deep, 140 BPM cuts. Highlights of this album include selected tracks from veteran beat-maker Deft, Halogenix's alter-alias Lordel, the Machinedrum, and one of dubstep's most in-demand acts - Midwest trio Ternion Sound. Edition 3 ends the acclaimed series on a deep, energetic note.
Analogical Force - Remixes
Released on June 29th, 2020
One of our most anticipated releases of this year was Remixes, a various artist compilation from Madrid-based label Analogical Force to celebrate the label's 30th release. Coining the rustic term "braindance" as a subgenre of softer electro and rhythmic techno, the collective has seen global success by pushing this aged style onward to a new era. This is done by creating a platform for both tomorrow's stars and electronic maestros guiding the way. Remixes does exactly that by taking older tracks from their catalog and welcoming some of the IDM world's biggest names to rework them. It includes appearances from breakcore godfather Venetian Snares, one of jungle's biggest current artists dgoHn, household duo Plaid, Radioactive Man (one-half of Two Lone Swordsmen), and more. The outcome is something quite special - one of the most sonically diverse releases of 2020.
Microfunk Music - Lost Dubs 3
Released on August 21st, 2020
Based halfway across the globe in Saint Petersburg is Microfunk Music. Operated by the distinguished Russian producer Bop, their overall goal is as clear as their label's name - bring forth a more mellow, glitchy aesthetic to the already funky characteristics of drum 'n' bass. Each track on Lost Dubs 3 do hold their own distinct qualities but are all tied closely together by the same recognizable concepts, including synthesized bits and pops surrounding crushed ambient pads that feel inspired by nostalgic 8-bit video games. Included in this compilation are tracks by label regular Oak, neurofunk expert Hybris, Bop and Diagram as the dynamic duo Abstract Elements, and more.
Houndstooth - Alterity
Released on August 28th, 2020
From London's fabled club space Fabric comes record label Houndstooth. Housing dancefloor giants such as Special Request and Hodge, the label released a new various artist album named Alterity over the summer - their first compilation in over two years. "The state of being different" is a suitable definition for its title as the album demonstrates its potential both audibly and visually. Stowed within the outstanding cover art and physical packaging design are 15 dancefloor-driven tracks from a diverse and inclusive group of artists. Rather than inviting their core roster for this compilation, they enlisted some of the hottest international acts in club music. This includes contributions from the Shanghai-based SVBKVLT team (33EMYBW, Gooooose, HYPH11E, Osheyack, and Slikback), the SUBREAL crew Amazondotcom and Siete Catorce, and many more.
Sisters Of Sound - SOS Music Vol. 1
Released on October 23rd, 2020
Founded by artists Maddy Maia and Tottie, the new Los Angeles label and radio show Sisters Of Sound is a new collective created to "provide a platform for forward-thinking electronic music, with a keen emphasis on female and non-binary talent from around the world." Their inaugural release (in partnership with Berlin-based label !K7) SOS Music Vol. 1 leads talent from the global club scene onto a stacked compilation of leftfield dance tracks. Some of our favorites include a lush tech house track by rRoxymore, a juke-influenced tune by Nightwave, and a cleverly deconstructed breakbeat track by LCY. We are very excited to see this collective grow and shine light on the undermined communities not only within the music industry, but as a society altogether. Proceeds from this compilation will go to three charities: Transgender Law Center, Downtown Women’s Center and Women’s Refugee Commission.
Sneaker Social Club - Evident Ware
Released on November 6th, 2020
Bristolian collective Sneaker Social Club has had a strong year of releases with a proficiency in break-infused club music. The label's first compilation Evident Ware is an ode to hardcore electronic music that ruled the 90s rave scene and influenced many of our core genres today. They called on heavyweights from all corners of the dancefloor, including junglists like Etch and Coco Bryce, breakbeat dealers such as ZULI and Interplanetary Criminal, and techno stars like Forest Drive West and Clouds. This is not merely a revival of ancient electronic sounds, but a modern blueprint of what has brought energy to the club over the years - the juxtaposition of a hardcore foundation with new talent and production capabilities.
n5MD - Twenty Years Away
Released on November 6th, 2020
It is generally uncommon for a successful IDM/electronica label to be based in the United States, considering the early adopters of our culture were primarily from Europe. It is even more rare that they have had 20 strong years of releases and sometimes feel overshadowed by other collectives from that time. Their hard work and passion for music is what makes Oakland label n5MD one of our biggest inspirations as a team. Their newest compilation Twenty Years Away is a celebration of the two-decade milestone they recently earned - including tracks from their core roster like Suumhow, Ocoeur, and Dryft, along with ones from IDM icons like Arovane and Gimmik.
Touched Music - Found Sound 2
Released on November 27th, 2020
Formed in 2013 yet encompassing decades of electronic music excellence, UK-based Touched Music is a great label for an even better cause. All profits made from releases go to the British charity Macmillan Cancer Support - some labels have even donated old releases from their catalog to be reissued and raise money for this tremendous cause. The team came together to deliver a new compilation titled Found Sound 2. Reading through the tracklist of this album almost feels surreal; it is filled to the brim with the pioneers of yesteryear and some of our all-time favorite musicians. Those include early breakcore adopter Datach'i, acid legend Luke Vibert, early-90s duo Orbital, electronica phenom Bola, and so many others. In all seriousness, you must see this list of artists in order to believe - it almost feels like an IDM history lesson. Add a lovely cover art and physical CD design by frequent collaborator Grid Pattern and you get perhaps their strongest release to date.
SVBKVLT - Cache 02
We wrap up our list of favorite 2020 compilations with a very special one that was released only a week ago: Cache 02 by the Shanghai crew SVBKVLT. Proudly representing the powerful emergence of China's underground electronic scene, this crew has been sonically taking over dancefloors around the world over the last few years, providing DJs a wide range of secret weapons for their sets. Their newest compilation is a proper showcase of their capabilities as a team along with the diversity of their upbeat sound. They effortlessly touch on everything from hard trap and grime, to dissected jungle and breakbeats - there is even a gabber track included for the hardcore heads! On the forefront of the label lie 33EMYBW and Gooooose, who both made an appearance on Houndstooth's Alterity. They provide a great synopsis of what this collective is about: blending dystopian club tracks with a heavy Chinese influence along with providing uncomfortable, nearly gut-wrenching 3D renders as cover art for their unique catalog - check out their Bandcamp for more visual creepiness.
Though there were many other compilations released this year that we thoroughly enjoyed, we hope you enjoy the ones we have selected and even discover something new. Though 2020 has been challenging for all of us, the amount of amazing art that came along with it made some circumstances better at times.
Stay up to date with Satellite Era through this link - more year-end content is on the way.