Various Ninja Tune: The Shadow Years

Shadow Records has been the home of many amazing artists in the early stages of their careers. They've released early offerings from Amon Tobin, DJ Krush and DJ Cam, and for a couple of years were an outlet for Ninja Tune in North America. So hot on the heels of Ninja's successful tenth anniversary release, Xen Cuts, Shadow has gathered their impressive catalogue and re-released this greatest hits of sorts. There is nothing on this album that Ninja Tune hasn't re-released since breaking off with Shadow, so for die-hard fans of the groundbreaking label, there's not much on this double album to salvage. But what you do get is some of Ninja Tune's greatest feats by a few of their more recognisable roster. Some of the label's most landmark tracks appear on this release, including Russian hip-hop at its finest, "Nonlateral Hypothesis" and "London Mind State," as well as easily accessible cuts like "Atomic Moog 2000," by Coldcut, and "A Mother (For Your Mind)," by the Herbaliser. Some might view this as Shadow trying to cash in on Ninja Tune's recent anniversary, but the fact of the matter is that The Shadow Years is a better indication of Ninja's past recordings and earlier stages. The label has grown enormously in the past few years by roping in the likes of Kid Koala and Amon Tobin and branching into various smaller labels, making Xen Cuts was quite overwhelming. The official Ninja anniversary release was focusing more on the recent years and what's in store for the future, whereas The Shadow Years works as a more simplistic celebration of Ninja Tune's pure musical genius of the past. This might be a good idea for people who are curious about the label. (Shadow)