Photo by Kyle Thompson
In operation for just over a year now, Russian label Udacha continues to carve out a distinctive identity for itself. Though its core artists’ dreamy and/or jazzy takes on house aren’t revolutionary by any measure, they never sound like the work of anyone else, either. Maintaining this ethos, the label’s second compilation adds four new artists to the canon — bringing the total up to 13 little-known names — and further explores the jazzy inclinations of the label’s owner, A5. True to the genre’s ideals, parts of Udacha 6 feel genuinely improvised — a nice change to the rigidly-structured pieces we mostly hear.
The American mutterings of Morgun’s “Some What?” open the record. Its slappy bass, hand drums, and sepia-tone synths play a constant game of musical chairs, struggling in and out of earshot and sounding random. A5’s “My Cat Can Play Weird Bass Solo” is similarly upbeat, rolling hi-hats powering funk bass as it wanders up and down the scale. With only a few choice snare and organ embellishments, the sense of relaxed ad-lib is superb, especially when a kazoo joins the fray. When was the last time you heard a kazoo used in a house track? Dada Ques’ “Grey Sizing” drags the tempo right down to a crawl, supplementing its sludgy bass with wary, circling synths. Like the other two, it never feels pointless or directionless, even at its most off-track. The remaining two cuts, Shine Grooves’ “7am” and Cuisine Dub’s “Tamaris,” seem more structured, but their sharp arrangements keep things interesting. Kissed by the sun, the former pairs wavering, golden-hued synths with clomping drums. The latter makes strong use of vocal chants and a chime loop to foster a congenial and hypnotic atmosphere. These two tracks round out a record that’s both playful and fresh-sounding, and which hints that Udacha has plenty more up its sleeve. Hear, hear.