Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sven Väth ‎– In The Mix: The Sound Of The Ninth Season (Original TC Review)

Cocoon Recordings: 2008

(2015 Update:
At the risk of being totally predictable, boy what a difference of six years can make. No longer the scrappy, renegade techno party, Mr. Väth's night had become an Ibizan institution as the '00s wound down, one of the requisite stops for every vacationing punter. As such, the music reflected this change, recognizable anthems replacing underground, fuck-off bangers. It's a small shame that he didn't stay the harder course, but with so much success comes some responsibility in playing to the crowd, and the typical clubber would rather bop and shuffle in place than pound the dancefloor all night long. Ironically, given the bad rep trance had at this time (and still does!) the neo-trance stuff at the tail-end of CD2 comes off more daring and underground than anything from Jonson, Dubfire, or Johnny D.)



IN BRIEF: Something new, something old.

While there are club DJs, rave DJs, and superstar DJs, there seems to be only one Sven Väth, an individual who has seen every walk of European EDM culture since its inception. He’s like that guy who went through a high-school as part of the first graduating class, remained as a member of the faculty, and will probably stick around post-retirement even if it’s as a custodian - he just loves the place so damned much to ever leave. Similarly, Väth isn’t simply a reveler in dance music hedonism - he is hedonism!

Unsurprisingly then, ‘Pappa Sven’ saw something of a rebirth once he established his Cocoon brand in Ibiza at the turn of the century, gearing it as the grittier underground alternative to the high-end gloss the party island had succumbed to from dance music’s commercial success at the time. The emphasis on take-no-prisoners techno and such certainly was out of the ordinary back then, but that outsider’s thinking seems to have paid off: Väth remains just as popular as ever, all without ever compromising his musical intuition. Success!

The yearly Sound Of The... Season series aims to be a reflection of the sounds Sven was favoring in Ibiza each summer, and as such, nine years after Cocoon was established, we’ve arrived at the Ninth Season. While this may seem redundant if you were actually there, in these unforgiving economic times plane tickets can be pricey, so it’s nice to have a snapshot for those who can’t make it. Besides, it’s not like most of the partiers in Ibiza often actually ‘remember’ what even happened there, much less specifically heard. Anyhow, Ninth Season, like most of the previous Seasons in recent years, follows the two-disc format, with each disc having a tagline that reflects that year’s theme; this time, we have Disco and Invaders. For the sake of repetition, here’s yet another paragraph ending with an exclamation mark!

Disco is typical Väth: willfully erratic, yet compelling all the same. Heck, the opening track from Mathew “Not Dear Or Edwards” Jonson could be construed as typical Väth in itself, as it jumps from mournful woodwinds to thumping techno to wonky experimentalism in the course of its ten-minute running time. Another example: following Sasha’s futuristic groover Mongoose is the Afro tribal-techno Buiya from Ahmet Sisman, taking you right back to pure primal roots after cruising the streets of neo-Tokyo. Okay, so there really isn’t anything that amazing about this transition but in terms of set flow, it’s unexpected and keeps the rhythmic tempo on the climb, which is always a plus.

As per its title, CD1 is mostly geared for the discotheque, so you get a lot of big-room techno thumping about. While I’ll admit I preferred Väth’s techno when he was slamming out the tracks a dozen BPMs higher, the cuts on Ninth are still serious movers. Heck, even if it’s played-out, Dubfire’s remix of Radio Slave’s Grindhouse remains a great peak-time tune, indicating the prolific remixer has merely been working the Law Of Averages this past year - mind, it probably helps that Väth also cuts out some two-and-a-half minutes of useless twiddle. Unfortunately, Disco ends on a rather limp note, as Prydz’ remix of Total Departure is an overlong tension builder that never offers a release, and Väth’s own Trashbindance with Alter Ego man Roman Flügel is too plinky-plonk to do the trick as a follow-up. Still, this disc is a fun romp through familiarity, which is par for the course where Ibizan-themed compilations are concerned.

CD2 is more of an afterhours affair, with deep tech house dominating much of the first half. As usual, the chill groove of this sound is pleasant enough, but tends to be mostly a flatlined listening experience. About the only track that leaps out is, of course, Johnny D’s Orbitalife, if only because it was one of those omnipresent tunes you couldn’t ever escape. Hearing it here again is fair play, but still doesn’t lift the opening chunk of Invaders above anything more exciting than lounge vibes.

Things pick up with the pure acid trance vibes of Waiting For You Again from Sven Tasnadi. Don’t give me that look, you insufferable trendster. If you don’t recognize this as trance, then you clearly don’t know your EDM history; get back to me after you’ve listened to some classic cuts from Väth’s original Harthouse label. For everyone left, Invaders continues down the loopy hypnotic road, perhaps suggesting that classic trance is due for a proper resurgence in the coming year, provided folks call it what it is rather than lumping it with ‘minimal’. With Joris Voorn’s remix of Dark Flower offering a prog-house type of climax - at least in the way Väth uses it - and the quirky world beat vibes of Spirits providing a wonderful coda, CD2 ends far more strongly than CD1.

Ninth Season definitely has more things working in its favor than against; the strength of the music on hand is always beneficial. The unfortunate thing, however, is it doesn’t come across like a necessary pick-up. Unlike, say, Third Season which had the tag-team of Hawtin and an overall ‘night-out’ theme running, or the DVD package of Fifth Season, there isn’t anything unique here to differentiate Ninth from the rest of the Sound Of… series beyond the selection of tracks. And even then, a number of them have been featured on several other compilations since the summer - as such, should you already have a bunch of these tunes, chances are you’ll be more willing to give this one a pass. If not, though, or you have no problem with Väth mixing together a bunch of well-rinsed techno records for your home enjoyment, then Ninth Season should find a comfy home in your collection.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2008. © All rights reserved.


ACE TRACKS:
Mathew Jonson - Symphony For The Apocalypse: New Age Revolution
Radio Slave featuring Danton Eeprom - Grindhouse (Dubfire Terror Planet Remix)
Microworld - This Is My Friend (Disco Version)

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