Record Review: DenFriends Compilation

Denmark Records
DenFriends Compilation
Raleigh, NC

“You’re amongst friends, here…”

Raleigh-based upstart label Denmark Records has compiled 19 of the Southeastern United States’ best up-and-coming electronic music artists on its new DenFriends compilation. After having introduced the world to ArnHao and Holygrailers via the Denmark One 7-inch, Denmark Records continues with its post Chillwave aesthetic. Divided in half, the compilation starts with ambient, sample-filled beat music – reminiscent of producer J Dilla – and finishes with more conventionally structured tracks featuring live instruments and looser-feeling drums.

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Opening DenFriends, the heRobust remix of Bambara’s “Drag Hesitation” lingers with hazy, reverb-saturated loops and incoherent vocals. Holygrailers’ “No Shit” quickly shifts gears with soul samples and amphetamine-infused drum and bass grooves. And with the compilation’s strongest track, Oxford Mississippi’s Junk Culture chops and screws the Nujabes-like “Ra’s New Rhythm.”

While both The Selmanaires’ “WindTruStar” and It Is Rain In My Face’s “A Fish in the Sea” feature drum machines and lithe synthesizers, the two tracks function as a transition from DenFriend’s beat heavy first half to the more song-oriented second half. A highlight of the second half, Wowser Bowser’s “Water Story” presents lyrics concerning a giant flood sung in a male/female call-and-response, and ArnHao mixes cascading feedback with soulful vocals on the ever-dynamic “Subways.” To top it off, Persona La Ave finishes the set with the funky, impromptu-sounding “Untitled.”

DenFriends showcases the vastly untapped talent residing in the Southeastern United States and, in the process, places Denmark Records in the center of this emerging scene. (Denmark Records)

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