Liner Note Author: Dean Rudland.
As perhaps could be expected by its punning title, Ace's 2016 compilation Modernism focuses on jazzy, swinging soul that soundtracked many club nights for Mod Revivalists of the '70s and '80s -- or perhaps beyond, because the liners do note that "the excitement of the original Mod scene has radiated down through six decades." Even when the copyright is for 2016, the music on Modernism -- which is a companion to the label's 2015 compilation Modernists: A Decade of Rhythm & Soul Dedication -- all hails from the '60s, the era when Mod R&B and Northern Soul took shape. Anybody who has paid attention to either scene will find the form of Modernism familiar, even if the particulars aren't. As always, rarities are prized within this variation of uptempo, uptown soul, the obscurities keeping common grooves sounding fresh. That's not to say that there aren't some slight variations among the Motown- and Windy City-inspired sides: there's a heavier jazz element in places, a sensibility that clearly derives from Ray Charles' pioneering records, and some of the late-'60s funk gets surprisingly intense. Still, this is merely flair on a collection that is designed to deliver the kind of dance-worthy fare that could be heard at any Mod club over the past 60 years: if that's your bag, this will satisfy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine