Tru Thoughts Records (Brighton) is a record label that has, since 1999, been at the forefront of producing quality driven music under the guiding hands of Robert Luis and Paul Jonas. It is a label inspired by a love of 'soul...[and]...creativity' and a drive to 'push music forward' with an appreciation for 'good hooks'. As part of the policy of making good music accessible the label issues what amounts to a 'best of' every year, and this release is the retrospective for 2012, featuring a number of previously unavailable remixes and new material across two cds.
The disc opens with the 'Ambassadeurs Remix' of Nostalgia 77's 'Sleepwalker' (2011) (the original version appears on 'The Sleepwalking Society'), a meandering and slow driven groove that is entirely modern in conception, similar to the work of Andreya Triana on Ninja Tune. 'Wasted Time' by Belleruche is a a darker driven affair (taken from the 2012 album 'Rollerchain'), reminiscent of the bass driven work of John Carpenter, but allied to a bitter vocal. 'The Why' by Mark de Clive Lowe (Featuring Nia Andrews) is a more traditionally soul driven song, with an entirely modern production and fantastic string driven coda. 'Darkrum' (2012) by Anchorsong is an instrumental affair that manages to recall the musical narratives of Bob James whilst 'Adam & Eve' (2009) by Skeletons (Featuring Alice Russell) allows the diminutive songstress to unfurl and cajole in a typically assured style. 'The Wilhelm Scream' (2012) by The Bamboos (Featuring Megan Washington) is a sober, reflective affair, proving that soul extends to the southern hemisphere, and it is simply gorgeous in scope and execution. Freddie Cruger and Anthony Mills Are Wildcookie provide 'Heroine' (2011), a plaintive (yet celebratory) paen to the influence of chemical inspiration, whilst Falty DL takes on the task of remixing Maddslinky's 'Further Away' (Featuring Tawiah). The original version appeared on the album 'Make A Change', and this is the version that listeners should seek out, a dark and deeply reflective track reminiscent of the best of the Metalheadz in the early 1990s. This is particularly true of 'Gotta Keep Me Goin'' (2012) by Zed Bias (Featuring Yannah Valdevil), a gorgeous slice of low bass allied to a propulsive vocal. Other highlights include Kylie Auldist's 'Changes', here featured in the 'Lanu Remix'. Clearly driven with more than a nod to Chic this is an absolute monster of a song guaranteed to feature in the main room at soul events, making the price of this cd seem absolutely insane.
CD 2 takes the music uptempo, opening with a remix of 'Magdalena' (2012) originally featured on the album by Quantic and Alice Russell. It remains questionable as to whether the track actually needed a remix, but here it is presented in a sparse (and largely instrumental) house driven format. Fans of Soul II Soul and Rose Windross may balk at the Zed Bias cover of 'Fairplay' (Featuring Jenna G), but for younger listeners familiar with the later stylings of garage this will make perfect sense. 'Crash & Burn' (Hint Club Mix) by Hint (Featuring Natalie Storm) is a salutary lesson in modern music still having balls - play loud and play proud! The quality continues with Zed Bias and Omar re-working 'Dancing', restoring faith in modern UK dance music. 'All Of You' (2012) by Riz MC is a dark and disturbing narrative of love and rejection, written with a refreshing honesty that ensnares over the dance hall driven production. Uncompromising and refreshing this track could stand for the 'Tru Thoughts' ethos.
So. Do you buy?
For listeners familiar with the narratives of Soul, Reggae and Hip Hop 'Tru Thoughts' offers a consistently refreshing approach to music, respectful of the past yet entirely committed to refashioning and creating new modern soundscapes. The fact that the label is prepared to issue a two disc selection for such a low price reflects an authenticity and commitment to modern music making that is to be applauded in an age of identikit pop stars and mainstream musical narratives, and anyone who genuinely cares about music should support this label.
This is an absolute 10/10, and music lovers should explore the 'Tru Thoughts' back catalogue at the earliest opportunity.
Strongly recommended without hesitation. Buy!