Leaf Records, out of England, is one such label, and this dirt-cheap sampler, filled with a wide variety of thoughtful computer music, resists the inclination to hammer a beatnail into your brain, instead tap-tap-tapping texture and subtlety under your skin. The music on Osmosis relies as much on the treble knob as it does on the bass, and though you can make the music rumble your intestines if you want, the music sounds much better with the knobs set at noon. There, you can hear the itsy-bitsy (sampled) water drops driving the rhythm, and you can hear the Tarzan hollers and organ oozings buried way down in the mix. Best of all, the stable of international artists (310 is American, Susumo Yokota is Japanese, Beige is German and Eardrum is British) never sacrifices a solid root beat for pyrotechnic stutters -- so, joy of joys, you can dance to it if you're so moved, though you'll never hear this stuff at Velvet -- and believe that melody still matters.
As a result, the entirety of Osmosis sounds, well, very, very pretty. And that's saying something in the testosterone-fueled world of electronic music, where a big ol' beat and an edgy grunt score more points in the popularity contests than subtler, more feminine nuances. In fact, much of the collection is downright delicate, a lace of curves and softness that may make you tough guys want to swallow your Adam's apples. Proof positive of this sentiment comes in the bonus hidden special mystery track at the end of the collection: a nearly antagonistic, cheeseball cover of Fatboy Slim's (admittedly rockin') frat-boy classic "The Rockafella Skank."
Osmosis is a glistening peek into a heavenly, rhythmic scene, one that fan-kids and freshmen alike will find satisfying. Though it's an import, it runs about $7 at your favorite record store, and if you're having trouble finding it in town, try a couple of ace online stores: www.othermusic.com and www.forcedexposure.com.