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The 2001 compilation Dublab Presents: Freeways is a curious time capsule: With its pre-9/11 sweetness, lingering dot-com optimism and ProTools-y introspection, the music predated the iPod by a few months but easily matched the friendly/techy vibe of Apple’s little white boxes. I can’t hear these tracks without thinking about harvesting MP3s from proto-blogs that prompted pure discovery, not necessarily mass file-sharing or conspicuous song-leakage.
But enough yucky nostalgia: The point here is that the era’s gentle electronica (call it dub, ambient, whatever) can definitely sound quite thin in retrospect, but the Dublab folks proved to have superior tastes, and they treated Freeways like a statement of purpose: Dntel is on there, as well as Madlib (as Yesterday’s New Quintet), Daedelus, John Tejada, and others.
The LA label/collective is now making the album available for the first time iTunes. Some freebies: