Brighton's Thu Thoughts is easily one of the UK's best independent labels, regardless of whether its audience is energetically twitching on the dancefloor or bobbing about in a chilled boudoir. Variegation is a natural force, as the roster effortlessly embraces funk, hip hop, soul, ambient, electro, jazz, drun'n'bass, Latin, reggae and Afrobeat, sometimes favouring the full flow of the songwriter’s craft, and at other times stripping down to a minimalist beat-hardness, designed for maximum DJ spinnage.
This lavish three-disc set arrives in the form of a hardback booklet, detailing the label's history so far. The first two discs select highlights from the existing catalogue, whilst the third unveils a host of new music, whether hot off the laptop or dug up from old sessions. The cuts were apparently chosen in typically democratic fashion, with much canvassing of the extended Tru Thoughts posse.
The majority of tracks are perhaps understandably culled from the last five years or so, but the presence of Bonobo harks back to the first Tru Thoughts album release in 2000, which was already successful enough to make founders Robert Luis and Paul Jonas consider the reality of a professional record company future. Disc one has the courage to open with a restful flotation, slinking from Bonobo to the bewitching Nostalgia 77, with singer Alice Russell livening up by track three, yet still keeping things slinkily soulful.
Disc two points out the Tru Thoughts predilection for a new form of soul authenticity, as The Quantic Soul Orchestra start to impersonate digital means with a full live band. A snagging guitar figure dominates their Super 8, with whiplash funky drumming and a flooding bass sound as bonuses. The label's latest batch of soul swivellers are represented by Belleruche, with yet more pinpricking guitar, along with Kathrin DeBoer's distinctive vocals, on Northern Girls. It's an updating of vintage production values that typifies the Tru Thoughts ethos.
The set's third disc of unfamiliar material is mainly instrumental, but most of its peaks happen to feature vocals. Domu's We Can makes a beguiling skip through a strong tune, Hint's Tape Packs gets ultra-robotic and Saravah Soul's Alforria splices into a strange new Brazilian-afrobeat hybrid. The label's best new signing Stonephace provide a fitting climax with their Singularity, featuring breathy flute, automated Flamenco handclaps and heavy Ennio Morricone-styled guitar.