Simply put, Ben UFO (a.k.a. Ben Thomson) is a DJ. Sure, his rise to prominence during the past few years is tied in part to his role as one of the founders of the consistently impressive Hessle Audio label, but most of the praise sent his way can be traced back to one simple fact: the London-based artist is an impeccable selector. As such, it comes as no surprise that Rinse: 16, his first official mix CD, offers a musical journey of the highest quality.
Journey really is the key word when it comes to Ben UFO. Admittedly, the notion that DJs lead their audiences on some sort of music-fueled visionquest is both cliché and trite, but it's hard to think of another term that better encapsulates what it is that Ben UFO does. He's a DJ's DJ, the kind of selector who melds the freshest dubs with carefully curated vintage gems and ultimately crafts a cohesive statement, one that draws lines between a myriad of cities, styles, and eras. Ben UFO isn't looking to hit anyone over the head; the occasional big tune may appear here and there, but they're used as punctuators, not tent posts.
Rinse: 16 is no different. Over the course of its 70-plus minutes, Ben UFO smoothly glides through a variety of house, techno, UK garage, avant-pop, and bass selections, and while the tracklist does include a sprinkling of legendary names (Kode9, Aaron Carl) and select contributions from some of Thomson's heavy-hitting contemporaries in the UK bass scene (Bok Bok, Joy O, Actress), the mix itself is impressively devoid of jaw-dropping moments. Make no mistake, it's not a boring or even an underwhelming listen. It's a testament to his skill that Rinse: 16 remains compelling throughout without needing to prompt listeners to throw up gun hands every few minutes. Much like the DJ himself, the mix is subtle, precise, and remarkably consistent.