Gilles Peterson’s strength lies in his ears. Via long-running efforts as both a club and radio DJ (on the London-based KISS FM and now on BBC Radio 1), the UK-based crate digger is now renowned worldwide as a consistent unearther of quality music. Because of his solid reputation, it’s kind of a big deal that Peterson’s now prepared to hand the compilation duties of an entire series—released on his own label, no less—over to someone else.
The inaugural volume of Worldwide Family has been entrusted to Belgium’s Lefto and France’s Simbad, two DJ/producers who have previously received the blessed Brownswood label head’s holy thumbs up. Just as we look to Peterson for what to listen to next, both compilers stay true to his general ethos of digging into lesser-known artists producing quality, forward-focused music. It also helps that the pair are wholly immersed in the world of international beats, acting as authoritative surveyors and selectors of sound.
Lefto exerts his own preference for soul-inflected cuts over disc one, opening with the fluid shuffle of fellow Belgian brethren UpHigh Collective before sifting through the work of current darlings like Exile, boogie-funk champion Onra and the first lady of beats, Tokimonsta. The inclusion of the unfamiliar is Lefto’s greatest favor to us, offering up the likes of Dela and the Headless Hunters’ vocoder breeze, the black granite of Japan’s grooveman Spot, and Brassroots’ triumphant transformation of Inner City’s late ’80s club classic “Good Life” into brassy jubilation.
In turn, London-based Simbad scans the landscape of his peers and emerges with a colder-edged, instrumentally-focused collection of tracks. Cemented by the weight of well-respected producers including Cooly G, Zed Bias and Seiji, the second disc also pulses with the sounds of new blood. Simbad introduces us to producers previously unheard, with tempos and frequencies coming from the UK, US, France, Paraguay, Croatia, Israel and Sweden. The cities these artists call home are as far flung as their sounds, but Worldwide Family Vol. 1 links the arms of global kin related via their love and search (as Peterson says) for the perfect beat.