Various Artists Various ArtistsRAMP 50
The big five-o. A remarkable achievement for any independent label in this day and age, even more so when your output over 50 releases has been as varied as that of Ramp Recordings. In fact Ramp can boast – as it does on the press release – of having “introduced the world to innumerable artists” because, well, it kind of has. Ok maybe not innumerable, that bit was definitely P.R., but they have definitely had a strong hand in pushing forward people like FaltyDL, Maxmillion Dunbar, Shortstuff, Desto, Computer Jay and Ras G to new audiences, often for the first time.
On “RAMP 50”, the label indulges in the most traditional form of patting itself on the back, with 17 tracks from across its back catalogue, including a cheeky preview of their forthcoming EP from Belgian producer Cupp Cave. Perhaps the most notable omissions are from its earliest releases, by the likes of Count Bass D and Kan Kick, two criminally-underrated producers whose music could have done with being dusted off once more for new audiences—but we can let it slide, really.
All the usual suspects are there with their now-classic (though I may be getting slightly ahead of myself here) productions: Zomby and his arpeggios on “Strange Fruit”, the 2-step swing of 2562’s Pattie Blingh remix and FaltyDL’s “To London”, the blunted beats of Ras G, the hectic percussion and old-school sampling of Shortstuff’s “A Rustling”, the synth psychedelics of Computer Jay’s “Distance”, Desto’s skippy yet subby “Disappearing Reappearing Ink”, Doc Daneeka’s anthem “Hold On”, and Jamie XX’s wobbly-yet-trendy “Hip Love” remix (I know, that was a terrible joke). You get the jist, “RAMP 50” is chock full of the best bits of the label’s back catalogue.
It’s a testament to the music’s quality and the label’s boundary-pushing agenda – I can’t think of many other labels with the sort of roster Ramp boasts of over 50 releases – that despite the age of some of these tracks and the way trends have changed, especially in dance music, the selection still sounds sometimes as fresh and pleasant as it did first time round.
If you’re new to the label then RAMP 50 is the perfect introductory jump-off point, and it also works great for the non-DJs out there who want some of these cuts, which as far as I know have only existed on vinyl until now. The compilation comes as a low-priced CD and digital download so no excuses, even for you Serato DJs who haven’t got proper copies of some of these jams. If like me, however, you’ve already got most of this, the compilation is maybe less essential, though its potential as a refresher of the label’s considerable back catalogue and ongoing work isn’t to be sniffed at. Happy returns, fellas!