Various artists 

History Is Bunk, Vols. 1-2, Hefty 10 Digest

Hefty Records, a Chicago record label formed by producer John Hughes III (who, yes, is the scion of '80s teen-movie director John Hughes), is emblematic of early 21st-century pop experimentalism. Its albums and CDs are decorated with street-art-inspired graphic design, and its musical catalog frequently cuts between IDM-styled electronics, hip-hop beats and melodic soul-jazz tones, generating a sonic identity surprisingly accessible and cautiously cutting-edge. Unlike Warp, the pioneering U.K. label behind influential artists such as Autechre, Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, you won't hear much polarizing music marked with the Hefty imprint. Its best releases, which include Telefon Tel Aviv's Fahrenheit Fair Enough, John Hughes' own projects (Slicker's The Latest, Some Water and Sun's All My Friends Have to Go) and the Immediate Action compilations, subtly cultivate a brand of electronic soul not easily defined by genre.

In 2000, Hefty Records issued former Atlantan Scott Herren's excellent Folk Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey as Savath + Savalas. A year later, Herren found international success on Warp Records as Prefuse 73. Now he returns to his alma mater with a 21-track mix tape from the label's archive. The disc is part of a two-disc set titled Hefty 10 Digest, itself part of a four-disc series titled History Is Bunk. (Both volumes of History Is Bunk and Hefty 10 Digest are sold separately.) Notwithstanding the title, however, the History Is Bunk series serves as a fine introduction to Hefty Records and a necessary reminder for people who often omit the label's contribution to recent underground music history.

For the two volumes of History Is Bunk, Hughes asked several top producers to rework key tracks from the Hefty catalog. These capable remixes from Daedelus, Jimmy Edgar and others are paired alongside new tracks by Some Water and Sun, Eliot Lipp, and L'Altra. Since it includes the Prefuse 73 mix and a second disc of original and unadorned Hefty classics, however, Hefty 10 Digest retroactively serves as the best argument for the label's continuing relevance. 4 stars


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