INCredible Sounds of Gilles Peterson isn't a mix-CD in the conventional sense: There are no extended and blended builds or lickety-split turntable antics. Then again, Gilles Peterson isn't your average DJ. Neither a hip-hop collagist nor a dancefloor master mixer, Peterson instead practices the vintage art of DJ as record selector. As a founder of the influential UK label Talkin' Loud and longtime host of an internationally syndicated BBC Radio 1 show, he takes the pulse of the underground and scribbles out a prescription for an avant-dance remedy.
Talkin' Loud made an indelible mark a decade ago by disseminating the gospel of acid jazz, and the groove is very much at the heart of the sound on INCredible, from the joyous percussion of Alive!'s "Skindo Le Le" to the ecstatic turmoil of Pharoah Sanders' "Rejoice" (RealAudio excerpt), which opens the 14-song collection.
Beyond its eclecticism, the mix is equally notable for being shot through with gorgeous moments of intense rapture: Alongside killer Talkin' Loud cuts such as the radiant 4 Hero remix of Nuyorican Soul's version of "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun" (RealAudio excerpt), Peterson drops surprise gems such as Andy Bey's mournful cover of Nick Drake's "River Man" (RealAudio excerpt).
In the end, INCredible Sounds is all about the DJ's ability to tell a story, and Peterson does so with such deft hands that you're left wondering why he didn't weave his magic on this side of the ocean long ago.