Ninja Tune, the greatest recording organisation in the world, presents a demonstration of their new stereophonic discs…
So many damn demonstrations it’s hard to keep up!
Almost certainly my all time favourite record label, Ninja Tune, has been putting out consistently excellent compilations since Funkjazztical Tricknology in 1995. Worth pointing out this was the same year the Coldcut team who run Ninja released their now legendary Journeys By DJ.
Ninja Cuts – Flexistentialism (Scratchmological Waxploitation) – The Joy of Dex followed in 1996, all three massively shaped my understanding of music, in particular hip hop and jazz. As with all good music, the best thing to do once you’ve established it’s excellent is share it, so here is a compilation of all the Ninja Tune Compilations to date.
Over 24 hours of mindbendingly brilliant music!
The hard to come by Shadow Years is compiled of cuts from a similar era to the above mentioned compilations, so I’ve slipped them in to the playlist at this point. The core of most of these releases is the team of Matt Black and Jon Moore (together known as Coldcut and Bogus Order amongst others), with Kevin Foakes (Strictly Kev inheriter of the DJ Food name) and Patrick Carpenter (aka PC, latterly of Cinematic Orchestra fame). Others on the label at this point include Up, Bustle and Out, Kid Koala, London Funk Allstars, Luke Vibert (some bits and latterly his Wagon Christ incarnation), Funki Porcini, Kruder & Dorfmeister, 9 Lazy 9 and Hexstatic.
After that the massive Funkungfusion dropped in 1998, a 3 LP compilation that demonstrated the galactic steps forward made in this time. I love the compilations that precede this, but this is an exceptionally bold and awesome set of records.
Following this was their ten year anniversary release, Xen Cuts (2000). Taking the progress of Funkungfusion further, this 4 LP release brings extraordinary new diversity to the label’s scope and basically delivers on every level. Highlights including the huge Saul Williams, Arc, Roots Manuva, The Cinematic Orchestra, The Clifford Gilberto Rhythm Combination, Kid Koala, Steinski, the ever reliable Funki Porcini, The Herbaliser, Up, Bustle and Out, and also the Quannum MCs (crossing over from Mo Wax).
The Art of Zen Relaxation dropped in 2000 and seems to have largely disappeared from trace on t’interwebs except as an Australian release credited to ‘Creative Vibes’. There was a fair amount of crossover with Xen Cuts, so it may have been a cutdown version for other markets.
Zen RMX in 2004 followed, bringing together some of the label’s best remixes, alongside Zentertainment which introduced Diplo, Blockhead, cLOUDDEAD, Bonobo and other big hitters. This was also the year of DJ Food’s Raiding the 20th Century which went as viral as was possible in 2004, bringing down servers, and becoming a staple please-all-party-mix to reach for (as long as you skipped the Paul Morley voiceovers).
You Don’t Know Ninja in 2008 was nearly 4 hours long introducing still more artists to the label. Also this year, the Ninja Tune Retrospect is released, as implied pulling together classic old tracks and artists.
Ninja Tune XX, the twentieth anniversary release came out in 2010. It’s after this point that the label just became too diverse to be able to pull together a cogent compilation (I suspect), so this is where the compilation of compilations ends. If you know of newer compilations I’ve missed, please comment and I will add post-haste!
Going through all these releases, the evolution of Fink as an artist is one of the most extraordinary things to watch, and I thoroughly advise checking out his output as a whole. Digging into their sub-labels of Big Dada, Ntone,
Other artists that at least deserve honourable mentions for appearances, but didn’t get individual name checks include, Chocolate Weasel, Money Mark (for occasional appearances away from the Beastie Boys), Ryuichi Sakamoto, Silent Poets, Ursula Rucker, Dynamic Syncopation, Cabbageboy, Neotropic, The Cinematic Orchestra (and Neptune the J Swinscoe and PC side project), Animals On Wheels, Omnium, Mr. Scruff, Wild Palms, Over Ride, The Irresistible Force, Journeyman, Burnt Friedman, The Nu Dub Players, Steinski, T-Love, Sarah Jones, Quannum, Quannum MCs, Frank Chickens, Flexus, Loka, Chris Bowden, Flanger, Arc, Max, Harvey, Happy Campers, Hexstatic, Sukia, Fog, Lotek Hi-Fi, Ghislain Poirier, Infinite Livez, Sixtoo, Daedelus, Pop Levi, Cadence Weapon, Spank Rock, King Geedorah, John Matthias, Juice Aleem, The Qemists, The Bug, Pest, TTC, The Death Set, RJD2, Two Fingers, DJ Kentaro, Homelife, One Self, Andreya Triana, Ammoncontact, The Long Lost, Dorian Concept, Zomby, The Heavy, Yppah, Cougar, Lorn, Wiley, Speech Debelle, etc.