It's been only two years since Roy Dank closed his venerable Wurst Edits imprint to make way for the Wurst Music Co. Yet, in that short span the label has managed to rise up and become one of New York's most respected sources for underground (and cheeky) disco and house-flavored dance music. Now, the label has released The Wurst Music Ever, a manifesto of a compilation that features 10 brand-new songs from its core roster. With those 10 songs, the LP fleshes out a style that, while openly reverential of the past, still sounds fresh for present and future.
The compilation opens strongly with Midnight Magic's cover of Native Underground's "Push 4 Love" —the original being one of the label's bigger records of 2010. The song stands as one of the best tracks Midnight Magic has done to date. It's a deadpan take on '70s disco that moves the original's mid-'80s garage groove into uptempo territory (think War's "Galaxy" mixed with Dinosaur's "Kiss Me Again"). Far from sounding dated, the cover holds its own, with a beefy low end and a sharp production aesthetic. Along similar lines is Great Weekend's "That's the Thing to Do," which approaches the soulfulness of mid-'80s garage through the lens of contemporary, re-edit inspired, slo-mo disco production.
And perhaps that's one of The Wurst Music Ever's most interesting features: many of the tracks seem to draw obvious cues from disco re-edit culture. For instance, Soho808's "Reach" blends house nostalgia (of indeterminate origin) with a loopy vocal hook that is entirely reminiscent of Tiger & Woods' "Gin Nation" to create a peak-hour burner of a track. On the same tip is "Soular Power" by Ulysses, which slows things down to a loopy, cosmic crawl—complete with shimmering sitar tones and ethereal synthesizers.
On the less openly nostalgic tip is Chicago Damn's "Romcom," which accomplishes a futuristic deep house sound through a shambling rhythm, floating synth washes, and a drugged-out flute hook. It sounds like a natural progression from previous Chicago Damn efforts "Let's Submerge" and "If I Could," as it boasts a similar sense of atmospherics but with more dynamic instrumentation.
While the compilation features an undeniable majority of strong tracks, there are a few missteps. The Miracles Club's "I Can't Help It" is a less-than-stellar take on mid-'90s house that merges dead-stock drum programming with overly saccharine vocals and weirdly parsed lyrics ("Do you know the air we breath comes from ancient realms?"). Similarly, "Ur Oskunni" by Name in Lights flies a little too close to the excesses of mid-'00s space-disco with its unnecessary washes of pink noise and a one-note, palm-muted guitar line. As a whole though, The Wurst Music Ever works excellently, and even the weaker offerings will undoubtedly find their way into certain kinds of DJ crates. If you're a fan of disco or retro-flavored house, this one's pretty much a no-brainer.