To celebrate 8 years and more than 45 releases since its conception, UK’s contemporary electronic music label Apron Records has teamed up with Patta Soundsystem for an 8-track-long Various Artist release. The sound division of the well-known streetwear brand has taken charge of the visual side of things, collaborating with Dutch artist Jim Klok to design the car-themed cover, and releasing a clothing capsule comprising of a trucker hat and graphic shirt, all echoing the same racing theme.
Musically, we’re given a diverse selection which aims to highlight the importance of unity, indicated by the title as well. The first and last track are provided by Compton-based producer AshTreJinkins, who showcases soulful, warm, and dreamy melodies in the form of both ambiental and California-type beats. “Passive Aggressive”, the opener, is an arpeggiated display of synths dizzyingly panning around, reminiscent of older but forward-looking sci-fi movie scores, while the closing track, “Dashing Buttface”, is a head-bobber and a half, with a juicy bassline and contrasting relaxing, emerging chords to bring you back down to Earth.
NTS veteran System Olympia provides a sexy but tasteful fusion of RnB and electro on “Passi Mai”, a track which comes out of nowhere and ends just the same, making you think of the 80’s, velvet, leather, and the colour red – like David Lynch at the club.
A moment of tension is conjured on “Leven” by Brassfoot, whose weakness for evil-sounding music becomes apparent quite quickly. The seemingly chaotic sequence overlayed on top of relentless and bass-heavy percussion, with sprinkles of Jamaican vocals, and the occasional relieving chord make for an intense breath-holding experience – ironic for a track with a name meaning “life” or “to live” in Dutch. Continuing the suit of contributing NTS radio hosts is Shamos, with “737363”, a foggy and analog-inspired Detroit-esque house tune which sounds like it’s constantly going in and out of focus.
The second half of the release starts in a lively manner via “Lessons”, by Tokyo, Japan based producer J M S Khosah – a faster-paced, energetic collection of sampled vocals, syncopated and compressed hi-hats, and lo-fi background drones. This sets the tone for London’s Shy One, who paints a wonderfully colourful and bubbly scene on “Candy Floss”. With lots of breathing room, crystalline plucks, and a three-note bassline, this track is just right for sunny days, the only issue being that the beat-switch and change in chords towards the very end might leave you wanting more.
And more is what you get, with the aptly named “E46”, by Steven Julien, which is just right for the penultimate track of the release: a classic break served two ways, accompanied by a sample of a car speeding by and an old school sustained string note to please both junglists and petrolheads alike, while also consolidating the theme set and built by those before.
Apron x Patta Soundystem’s “Better Together” is made by its concept, cohesion, and changing uniformity. A benchmark for V.A. releases to come in terms of both musical and social diversity, as well as that of artistic direction, this project can be found on Soundcloud, Spotify, and it can be bought on Beatport, as well as on Patta’s website – along with its associated merch.