This is a journey into Vision.
While fads come and go, Jonathan More and Matt Black's Ninja Tune label has existed in a parallel musical universe, mining the margins for inspiration.
Their occasional scoops of their label's ripest fruits have been amongst the last decade's finest compilations, from The Joy Of Dex to FunkingFusion, not to mention 1996's epoch-defining hymn to mixology, Coldcut's very own Journeys By DJ. This, though, is Ninja's first foray into commercially available DVD compilations, and with 35 promos, it's a generous serving.
It's no surprise that the acid-punk ethos has seeped its way into the visual representation. As the label itself claims, they were produced on "a budget of £2.99 and a pork pie", and the absence of commercial pressures has given most of the directors free rein for expression, if not for resources. But then Ninja Tune acknowledged multi-media as an art form way back, when academics were still calling the internet "the Information Superhighway".
A fair amount of Ninja's output over the years delivers on the promise of the original ambient blueprint. Much of the work of artists like Animals On Wheels, Skalpel, and Bonobo is often best heard together with the abstract sounds of everyday noise - kettles, refrigerators, central heating, distant traffic - and the challenge for the promo directors is to achieve some level of environmental compatibility.
Andy Coleman's self-produced promo for his Never In And Never Out, and Funki Porcini's What Are You Looking At are compiled so seamlessly that sound and image form a textual whole. AV specialist Hexstatic achieve a kind of video-concrete in their visualisation of the eco-conscious Timber.
Most Ninja Tuners have succeeded in appropriating the wide-eyed glee and sense of wonder of More and Black - how can all these great sounds be made with all those wires and all that computery stuff? It's probable that none of these vidz are going to win animation awards, yet those most simpatico with the broad church ethos, speak of a wisely spent youth watching cartoons, reading comics and listening to records.
Kid Koala's continual collaboration with the artist Monkmus is an example of this tinkering delight. Their tribute to Louis Armstrong, Basin Street Blues, should be quickly switched on whenever lazy broadcasters have chucked The Snowman and Walking In The Air at us down the airwaves yet again.
Which brings us rather conveniently to Ninja's increasing preoccupation with jazz. It may be that Ninja is the most distinguished home for contemporary jazz since labels were called imprints. Chief amongst these is the august presence of Jason Swinscoe's Cinematic Orchestra. Eva Katzenmaier and Russ Murphy's crimson-filtered film on the languid All That You Give may be a long way from being the goofiest promo on this set, but you do get to see sexagenarian Fontella Bass sporting the kind of natty headgear that had only previously been donned by Earth's interplanetary attaché, Sun Ra.
Ah... I've just realised that I've been a little bit over-zealous about the merits of this latest sparkling jewel in Ninja Tune's weighty crown of shiny beats and pieces, and should find something negative to say before I get thrown out of The Objective Club...
... Oh s**t, I've run out of room.