Sunday, March 22, 2020

Various - Bedrock: John Digweed

Ultra Records: 1999

Many folks consider this Digweed's proper debut solo DJ mix, which is funny considering how long he'd been spinning records up to that point. Heck, he'd just done a set for Global Underground the year prior, and a solo follow-up to his and Sasha's seminal Renaissance set half a decade earlier. Not to mention various odds and ends that slipped through the radar for various reasons. Most of those were in service of other brands though, but by the end of the '90s, Digweed was a brand unto himself. And what better time to expand that brand than by propping up his newer brand, the freshly minted label Bedrock.

Bedrock became a short-lived series itself, but this inaugural outing clearly overshadowed the follow-ups. When people think Bedrock, they think Digweed, and all the artists featured on his label were there because of his blessing keen sense of club weapons for the progressive elite. This was his opening statement for a new phase in his career, dictating where progressive house would go. Also, a shameless way to plug his new big single Heaven Scent to help launch the Bedrock brand proper-like. All the way at the end of the double-disc set. As if it didn't really fit with the new manifesto. Hmmm...

Forget Heaven Scent. What matters is all the music before it on that tasty CD2. Prog has plenty of criticisms, some of which rear their heads in this set (only ten tracks, what?), but I cannot deny the tunes included here do the business proper-like for my earholes. The opening track alone (Ba Ba (Human Movement Remix) from Pob & Taylor) gets on that hard, techy brand of prog that Steve Porter would launch a career from. The Bedrock rub on Heller & Farley's The Rising Sun practically defines the dark, chugging style that prog would build its reputation around (“deep, deep, dub”). And while it's no Breeder, Sandra Collins' Flutterby pulls closely enough from the the same tech-trance lane such that the sound gets its just representation in this set. Oh, and Markus Schulz is here too, his early Dakota track Swirl offering one of the few melodic moments. Guess Digweed needed something to make the anthemic melodies of Heaven Scent not seem as out of place.

All this gushing over CD2, but what about CD1? Yeah, about that. Two decades later, and with multiple attempts, including most recently, this one just doesn't stick in my head that well. It's the dreaded other critique against prog, its more vapourous tendencies for long stretches, and believe you me, this problem would persist in the following editions of Bedrock.

Maybe CD1 is just too sluggish compared to CD2, and thus always forgotten whenever I play them back-to-back. Oddly, the vocal stuff leaves the only impression, like in Moody from BPT, the Fluke-ish True from Morel, and the quaint robotic Hawkins-speak in We Are Connected from Jodi & Spesh. Who'd have thought vocals would be the best part?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Underworld - Beaucoup Fish

V2: 1999

Working at my little music shop gave me access to all the hot, new 'electronica' CDs before they were to hit the streets (back when such things as internet leaks were hushed whispers). So when Underworld announced Beaucoup Fish, I was eager to get that within my hands for bragging rights. I was already rather late to the bandwagon, having only given their earlier works a passing interest (yay Hackers overplay!). Born Slippy changed plenty of opinions though, including mine, so with only their prior big singles being my main point of exposure, you can imagine my surprise at how chill this album went. Oh, it's got its bangers too, but overall this was quite the knowledge drop on how diverse the Underworld discography could be.

And I liked it! Yet, as I recall, general impressions weren't quite so keen. Folks didn't hate it or anything, just weren't talking it up to the same degree as Dubnobass or Second Toughest (after Born Slippy was added to it). I quite appreciated hearing something more classy and soulful though, especially when most popular crossover stuff was big boshy beats or trance-pants 'tastic. Yeah yeah, if I dug around, I'd find the goods, but you gotta' remember where I was stuck at the time. For a 'mainstream' 'electronica' 'record', there wasn't much like Beaucoup Fish on the market that year. Like, what else, Leftfield's Rhythm & Stealth? Moby's Play??

What's odd about this album, however, is despite liking it, there's always been this strange mental gap for a chunk of it. The opening clutch of tracks are easily burned into my brain, because half of the live album Everything, Everything uses the same tunes. Yet after King Of Snake, I couldn't recall much of anything until Kittens, and I only instantly recognize that tune thanks to its inclusion on the Wipeout 3 soundtrack. It would always come up on that game's supposed 'random' playlist; that and The Chemical Brothers' Under The Influence. C'mon, Wipeout 3, give me more of the Sasha originals, why don't ya'?

*ahem* The clever chill-out counterpoint to Push Upstairs, Push Downstairs follows, with the frantic, manic, Moaner making for a strong closer. That middle of Beaucoup Fish is a real blank though. It's not that big a deal, mind you, the three songs here the shortest of the bunch. Unfortunately, Winjer's soft pitter-patter rhythms and muted vocoder vocals is quite the comedown following King Of Snake, while Skym is little more than a chance for Karl to get his lonesome croon on. And I'd completely forgotten about Bruce Lee, which sounds like Underworld trying to do a heavy, rocky trip-hop thing? Not the best fit for a band best known for the thumping techno and cool groove.

Ultimately, Beaucoup Fish is a fine capper on The Emerson Years, providing the sort of tunes you'd expect of Underworld of this era while showing hints of future genre explorations from Hyde and Smith. Huh, what a limp way to end a review.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Metamatics - Beatsamatic

XTT Recordings: 2014

Yay! I'm finally reviewing a Metamatics album! Only, this isn't really an album. It's certainly an LP length collection of tracks, released under Lee Norris' oldest of aliases. In fact, the tracks included on Beatsamatic are among the oldest under the Metamatics banner, appearing on vinyl way back in the mid-'90s, via UK based label Clear. You might know of that print as one that nurtured acts like Mixmaster Morris, Jedi Knights, and Doctor Rockit for a time. Technically the first Metamatics album too, A Metamatics Production, though somehow I suspect the follow-up on Hydrogen Dukebox, Neo Ouija, was more substantial in the Metamatics narrative.

I bring all this up because Beatsamatic doesn't seem to exist within Lord Discogs' archives, at least this version of it. And believe me, if there's a body of fellas that would make sure such things are uploaded, it's followers of Lee Norris. There is a Beatsamatic there, the aforementioned '96 twelve-inch, and thus far the earliest Metasamatic item listed. And since I have no way of hearing the original, I can only assume these are the same tracks – sharing some of the original names certainly confirms it.

Okay, so Lee dusted off some oldie works for a digital re-issue. Nothing strange with that, except these aren't even really tracks, at least in the typical since. Rather, Beatsamatic is little more than a collection of electro rhythm loops and tools, seventeen in all and most in the one-to-two minute range. A few reach out to the three minute mark, which makes me wonder if these were on the original Beatsamatic release (not all the track names were printed, apparently). So not an album at all, then, but a sample pack for budding producers and crafty DJs to make use of. And I have this because...?

Honestly, this was part of that MP3 giveaway Mr. Norris did a couple years back via mailing list, and knowing nothing about any of his wider discography, downloaded it sight-unheard. I figured everything among those would be like all the other ambient side-projects he'd offered, hence why I have it now. There's honestly no reason for me to review this though. Well, maybe if you stumble upon it yourself in your Bandcamp wanderings, and wonder what it is before getting it. Just as easy to listen to the samples and read the text blurb to find that out yourself though.

As for why I've kept this, I dunno, maybe I thought I might get some PWoG Psychick Rhythms Vol. 1 enjoyment out of it. Tracks needed to be more than 'tool' length for that though, and only a few get that far.

Or maybe... Maybe I just might use these loops for my own aspiring musical concepts. Snag myself that L.S.G. sample pack off Bandcamp too! Then, mix and mash them together, while throwing in some weird, distorted abstractions of Oak Ridge Boys gospel as backing. Stranger things have been unearthed from Soundcloud, I'm sure.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Kevin Yost & Peter Funk - BeatKilla: 2

i! Records: 2008/2015

I'm feeling a little stupid right now, but... Kevin Yost is also Peter Funk? Like, I know for certain Kevin Yost exists, as I've done a retrospective on that chap's work. Somehow I got it in my mind that Peter Funk was a separate entity, perhaps a collaborator who'd bring in some proper jazz solos to supplement Kevin's deep, deep, smooth house grooves. It never once occurred to me that I should, y'know, click on that 'Peter Funk' link within Lord Discogs' archives, just to see what his story is. Couldn't escape it with this BeatKilla series though, getting equal billing with Kevin on the cover and all. So follow the 'Peter Funk' link I did, and there's a healthy assortment of singles, plus also has an alias of... Kevin Yost? Wait a minute..! Peter is Kevin? Kevin is Peter? Finkle is Einhorn? That... actually explains a lot!

Okay, it doesn't explain much of anything, this revelation not really some great industry secret. I just assumed a thing, the Lord That Knows All showed me I was incorrect, and now I know better. *a shining light from heavens glows down, angelic music is heard* It's not unheard of producers to create multiple aliases, and to 'collaborate' with their aliases. I guess since Kevin's most successful pairing is with Funk (hah!), he essentially merged the two into a proper, singular alias of Kevin Yost & Peter Funk. At least for the purposes of these BeatKillas.

And whatever is BeatKilla? A series of singles Kevin Funk released throughout the '00s, is what. Lot's of them, in fact, so much so that he consolidated them into not one, not two, not three, not four ...okay, three compilations. I picked the second volume of these for the sole reason of there being a cute pooch on the cover art. Aww, just look at him, ain't he a darlin'? Who's the pweshus beatkilla'? You are, you are!

Unfortunately, while these tunes may be dubbed 'beatkilla's, they kinda' lack much in the way of thrilla's. Not that I should have expected it, Peter Yost forever (and a day) a deep house guy through and through. Even if few of the techier tracks in this collection leaped out at me as highlights within his larger discography, they still served their purpose in providing that unmistakable smooth, ridin' groove with occasional flourishes of jazzy solos. Also, a fair bit of tribal drumming too, popping up at weird points throughout this mix.

Yeah, as a DJ set, BeatKilla 2 is only functional at best, keeping the vibe moving while showcasing tunes, but not so concerned with rising tension and all that rot. Yet they fit far better together than as separate entities, the Bandcamp version of this only supplying the unmixed tracks, with all the lengthy DJ-friendly intros and outros you can handle. Why the digital release didn't also include a the mix CD too, I haven't a clue. It was done for his best of Fundamentals, after all.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Lamb - Lamb

Fontana: 1996

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

Like everyone else, I just automatically assumed Lamb to be part of the trip-hop lexicon. Look, when the first track you come across from them is paired up with a Portishead cut, you'd make the association too. I'd see the group's music on numerous downtempo/lounge/chill-out compilations over the years since, though Lord Discogs tells me I only have one of their songs, on the Canadian 'electronica' CD RU Receiving (Górecki, naturally).

My lack of overexposure led me to believe Lamb was a group that got a little lost in the great trip-hop wave of the mid-'90s, one that folks would recognize by name (because how could you not? 'Lamb', it just rolls off the tongue!), but could never reach the commercial highs as the big Bristol acts. And that was true for the most part, their subsequent albums after this doing only modest chart action in the U.K. to say nothing of their global impact. Except Portugal. For some reason, Lamb were huge there, possibly bigger than even in Britain. Hey, sometimes one's sound just clicks with a specific culture.

What I never realized – and probably should have given how Górecki sounds, but eh, context – is Lamb really aren't trip-hop. Elements of it, sure, with a few tracks definitely fitting the mould (Trans Fatty Acid, absolutely). As I listen through their debut album though, I hear closer lineage with jazzstep than anything downtempo. But the vibe doesn't quite gel with the d'n'b scene either, songs definitely more laid-back than the frenetic pace of your Goldies and Roni Sizes. Yet, even when those producers were doing more chill, jazz-soul outings, there was always a sense of urgency and bite in their tunes. Not quite so with Lamb, the busy rhythm-work making better sense in smokey lounges than a warehouse filled with junglists. Less rinse-out tools, more songs that you should sit down and soak in with.

It probably helps that singer-songwriter Louise Rhodes is a permanent fixture of Lamb, thus her lyricism an involved component of their songs than whatever some guest vocalist can whip up for a track or two. And she certainly shows her range here, bellowing when sampled orchestras swell, or bringing things down to a whispery, husky coo when the album goes soft and quiet.

Meanwhile, Andrew Barlow does a fair bit of chop-n-slice production with numerous jazz and orchestral samples, sometimes breaking beats down to near IDM levels of stuttering (so much backspin in Cotton Wool, just so much). As mentioned, it gives many tunes off here a level of kinetic energy you didn't really find in most trip-hop releases, which undoubtedly gave Lamb an extra edge over their contemporaries. The genre was in need of some evolution by '96 as it was, and Lamb certainly provided that. Small wonder they found plenty of success on the compilation market after. Okay, a record deal with Mercury didn't hurt either, the label anxious for their own Portishead after that group won their Music Prize.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Oasis - Be Here Now

Epic: 1997

The history of how Be Here Now deep-sixed the Manchester band's good graces has been well documented. I'm not adding anything by reiterating what others have detailed before. For my money, Todd In The Shadows' video essay on the subject does it best, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a Patreon supporter of his. Okay, I kinda' am – that's literally the point of Patreon – but it is quite in-depth in all the things you'd want to learn about this 'trainrecord'. My pride wouldn't be wounded in the slightest if you close this tab right now and wander out in search for it. I'd provide the link but, eh, you know how flakey YouTube links get over time.

So expectations are already low for yours truly going in – no one would point to this album as the one you're supposed to have, even if you're not an Oasis fan (the first album, definitely maybe?) - but there's a sense of freedom in that. I don't have to worry about forming a consensus opinion or forcing myself to hear a true genius all the haters refuse to acknowledge, or some such. If I happen to like something, that's cool, but I'm not obligated to either. And that chorus for D'You Know What I Mean?, I like that chorus, enough that it's still sloshing about my brain long after I want it to. And as an opener to an album known for its studio excess, it's certainly quite the omen for what's to come. If you're already feeling fatigued by the end of this track's seven-plus minute run-time it doesn't bode well for the rest of Be Here Now.

Much has been said about this album's lo-o-o-o-ong songs, and as this CD plays out, I find it isn't so much their run-time that's the issue, but just how aurally exhausting it all is. By cramming in so many instruments and so many sounds trying to outdo Morning Glory's wall-of-noise production, you can barely make heads or tails of anything in play: guitars and drums and vocals and keyboards orchestras and sound effects all fighting to get in front of one another for your attention. You're mentally tapped out of each tune by the three minute mark, but then they keep going for two, three, sometimes six minutes longer! And the songs aren't all that dissimilar from each other either – felt like they kept trying to redo Champagne Supernova over and over – so you've basically heard all that you need to after a couple tracks.

Then there's All Around The World, as blatant an attempt at a Hey Jude moment in the the band's discography as you'll ever hear. Fair play, as the Beatles nods were always part of Oasis' hook. If I was to imagine a parody of over-the-top Brit rock bombast however (complete with an outro reprise!), this is about how it would come off. No surprise the Brothers Gallagher got there all on their own.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

ACE TRACKS: February 2020

So, a little better this past month, but man, still quite a slog. The Real World work, she don't slow down, even when I think it's gonna' slow down, it just ramps up again. Nothing like a little global viral pandemic to get folks all panicky and buying up things and stuff that seldom sell otherwise. And it's funny, because changes are coming up in a few months again, wherein my status will be in flux, and the amount of responsibility saddled upon me will be significantly reduced in whatever capacity my new role will be.

And that's fine, that's totally fine. I get paid the same one way or the other, and if it means I instead focus on singular tasks instead of doing all the things, I'm all the more for it. I always knew I had some mild ADHD (really, in our modern, technologically advanced society, who doesn't?), but never realized just how much it can affect your casual day-to-day activities when you have all the things from work following you home. All you want to do is unplug and let things set fallow but, oof, still got some Balance mixes to listen to and analyze. And them Balance sets, they don't make things easy, nosiree. Well, except that Lee Burridge one. Could tell that was tapioca bland right from the outset. Fortunately, it's not part of February's assortment of ACE TRACKS!

Full play list here.

Attoya - Based On True Events
Various - Base Ibiza 2003

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0%
Percentage Of Rock: 0%
Most “WTF?” Track: Oh, either of Attoya's, for sure.

Technically, the older Balance mixes are missing too, but most of the tracks are still available on Spotify, so didn't see any reason to list them as 'missing'. Like, that seems to be how the newer Balance options have been supplying their tracklists on Spotify: full unmixed version, and a separate playlist of all the unmixed tracks. It's a very good idea for DJ mixes, methinks, though obviously quite difficult to do with sets dating a decade older.

And not much else in this playlist, Balance once again eating up most of my spare listening time, though I squeaked in a couple extra items towards the end of the month. And what great, unifying wellspring of wisdom have a gleaned from my journey through Balance? There sure was a lot more space disco than I would have imagined, that's for sure.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Attoya - Based On True Events (Original TC Review)

Trishula Records: 2007

(2020 Update:
Yet another one of those old reviews where I spend a huge chunk of the rambling pre-amble detailing a whole sub-genre of electronic music for the readers, just in case they weren't all that up to speed about the exponentially increasing micro-genres emerging within the psy trance scene. What 2007 Sykonee wasn't aware of is this was just the tip of a fractal iceberg, genre splintering occurring at almost the quantum level - this new nano-genre can both exist
and not exist! Not that most would care, but for a scene indulging in reality warping psychedelics, the divisions are razor sharp, crystal clear, and down to the sonic yoctometre.

Attoya would release another album half a decade after this one (so sayeth Lord Discogs). Taking a quick skim through, they apparently took the positive words I had for their debut and explored them further. Whee, I loves me some wobbly, rubbery basslines in dark psy. Not sure where I could find a copy of that CD now though, save the second-hand market. Ooh, there's a decent price on Discogs now. No! Must... resist...!)

IN BRIEF: Results vary.

One of the funnier things about electronic music is how scenes often adopt pet names for their music, names that are seldom referred to anywhere else. Sometimes it’s nothing more than making use of a redundant adjective to describe a variation of a sound, and other times it can be a mind-boggling maze of slang terms (grime in its transition from UK garage, for instance). So, it’s hardly surprising a scene as old and esoteric as the psy trance scene is just as guilty of this too. However, it is surprising there are only two isolated terms to spring up from it: morning and forest.

Without getting too bogged down in technicalities, morning trance refers mostly to the melodic stuff, typically played, um, in the morning of all-night parties. Forest trance, on the other hand, tends to be the darker side of psy, played at night in, er, forests. For the purpose of this review, let’s focus on the latter.

Forest trance can be incredibly hit or miss. The apparent aim is to create an atmosphere where the creatures of the night are welcome to the party, like some kind of gathering in the middle of Fangorn; creepy tones, mischievous sounds, and foreboding moods are often utilized. However, while psy has a tendency to forego conventional song writing in favor of warped soundscapes, it seems producers in this field are all too eager to go overboard when they tap into the dark side; why care about immediate appeal when you can totally trip out your audience with those twisted noises, eh? All fine and dandy to a degree, but the end results are often tracks that end up a rambling, incoherent mess. Even when lost in a tribal frenzy, the need for a point to it all is still welcome.

And now, after some 300 words of introduction for our non-psy readers, we finally get to the Burshstein brother’s debut album, Based On True Events. Going by the name Attoya and hailing from Israel, the duo seem to fully embrace what this style of psy sets out to accomplish. If the cover is anything to go by, they wholeheartedly dig the forest trance mystic.

Sure enough, eerie sounds, disconcerting effects, and twisting synths creates the feeling that everything ain’t quite right in the woods tonight. Unfortunately, it’s rather aimless in the process, with Attoya producing tangents and moods for no reason other than they needed something to support the driving rhythms. Every so often, you get a lead that perhaps hints at a possible intriguing plot, but it soon dissolves into psy’s typical squiggly wibble; The System Of Multiple Language is a great example of this as the opening notes are delightfully paranoid, but are never touched upon again. About the only thing that keeps these tracks from descending into nonsensical noise are the basslines; they’ll leap off the rails of the standard dark-psy drone, creating unpredictable urgency in the process, but even then it isn’t done enough to maintain steady interest.

And then we move onto the second half of this album.

Heh, okay, I apologize for slightly leading you on there, but Based On True Events really does seem like an album of two halves. While there are moments to be had in the early going, that is all they are: moments. Even when the tracks are a bit more structured - as in Our Tasty Part for the best example - the end result is rather lacking, feeling like mere appetizers. That all changes after the mid-way mark.

Green Crop Matured is an apt title, as Attoya seem to have firmly grown into their sound from this track on. Yes, there are still some rambling moments, but not to the degree as before, and they are supplemented by musical ideas that build upon each other instead of compete for trip-out time. In fact, this tune is rather brilliant in execution, layering the intensity on in ever-increasing increments while maintaining a sense of flow from idea to idea.

After something a little more subdued, Attoya finish the album out with a couple brisk psy offerings, and quite strongly in the process. While nothing revolutionary, they are solid tracks, especially so when the basslines seems to freewheel with abandon at this late stage.

All being said, Based On True Events is a tentative recommendation. Despite a couple choice cuts to be had, a great deal of Attoya’s debut falls upon bog-standard psy execution, making this a pick-up that'll interest fans of the forest sound but very few others.

Written by Sykonee for, 2007. © All rights reserved

Friday, February 28, 2020

Various - Base Ibiza 2003

Base Ibiza Records: 2003

As the early Hed Kandi brand grew, the temptation to spin off sub-labels couldn't be helped. Aside from Stereo Sushi, however, these didn't take root, folks content sticking to the label and artwork they were most familiar with. The Acid Lounge tried getting in on that underground downtempo gig, with a grittier, pulpier comic stylee, but only lasted a few releases. Then there's this, Base Ibiza Records, a tie-in with the Ibizan bar of the same name. That's... remarkable, that Hed Kandi never really paired up with any established club for a proper residency, instead letting their brand tour about. It wasn't a long partnership though, lasting just half a decade. Base Ibiza 2003 is smack dab right in the middle of the run.

With my last exposure to the Hed Kandi discography a pair of utterly abysmal World Series mixes from much later in their lifespan, these CDs were such a refreshing reminder of the class once associated with the label. House music! Real, honest-to-God house music! With the disco loops and the soul sista's and the fiesta chants and the club monologues and... the trend-whoring remixes and... the euro anthems (?), and the.. cover songs? Wow, they really couldn't clear the rights to X-Press 2's Muzikizum? That track was everywhere, so it couldn't have been that expensive. Why settle for a knock-off version?

Speaking of, you remember what song got huge around this time? Talk Talk's It's My Life, is what, though thanks entirely to No Doubt's cover resurrecting interest in it. Then radio stations started playing the original version again, and folks realized the O.G. '80s style was better (retro revival sure helped). Thus is the only reason I can fathom hearing a Liquid People remix of It's My Life on here. Cool bassline added though. Speaking of basslines, Junior Jack sure did love him some of Daft Punk's Burnin', but hey, throw some Latin vibes over it, call it E Samba, and no one will ever tell the difference!

As should be abundantly clear, I'm not giving Base Ibiza 2003 that much of a serious critical overview. Nor should I, the music within about as deep as the beach shallows of the Ibizan shores. It is fun music though, at least the first disc wherein the disco vibes and garage shuffles and floppin' funk is felt. It's got a StoneBridge remix in there, mang', and you can't have a proper Hed Kandi outing without at least one tune with StoneBridge at the console.

CD2 aims for the 'later in the night' club outing, but is all over the place as a result, sounding like a mish-mash of left-over tunes that just wouldn't fit in the first CD. Some mild McProg (iiO's At The End), a little tech-house (4Tune 500's Dancing In The Dark), and a nod to the burgeoning 'eurotrash house' sound (Andrea Doria's Bucci Bag). Oh, and all those aforementioned cover/remixes are here too. Yeah, I think I'll stick with CD1 in this outing. It's funner!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Blue Amazon - The Javelin

Jackpot: 1997

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

The only other 'epic house' album you're supposed to have, even if you're not a fan of 'epic house', since between this and BT's Ima, there were no other such LPs. You'd think with two years separating them, someone else might have had their hand at style-biting the sound that Sasha was rinsing out, but album release dates can be deceiving. Seems Jackpot, the label behind The Javelin, sat on Blue Amazon's debut a tad longer than Lee Softley and co. wanted, the record almost ready to go in conjunction with BT's debut. Instead, by the time 1997 rolled around, clubland was already moving onto the Next Hotness, when Next Hotnesses were emerging at a monthly clip.

Seriously, it's unfathomable how fast things evolved back in the '90s, and I say this as someone who lived through it! How can a record that sounded cutting edge in '95 be showing signs of dustiness when it was finally released in '97? Can you imagine something similar playing out in the last decade? You'd think with the infinite tools available and infinite means of distribution, we'd be hearing tons of new and exciting developments in electronic music almost weekly now. Instead folks keep returning to formulas that worked in the past, nurturing them to the point of perfection such that we don't need no new-fangled ideas sullying up a good thing. Like, they tried forcing it back in the '00s, and look how that turned out.

Calling The Javelin “dated by '97” is probably a gross overstatement, but it's hard not to draw comparisons to BT's Ima with this album. Then, when you stack it against BT's 1997 outing of ESCM, you can hear what I mean by club music, erm, progressing rapidly. Then again, BT always was leaps beyond his contemporaries.

Anyhow, what made Blue Amazon's singles such huge hits within prog circles (re: favs of Sasha) was how all-encompassing of 'the journey' they were. Tunes breaking double-digits in runtime, with lengthy, rhythm-heavy builds to endorphin-rushing climaxes filled with pianos and synth riffs and ear-wormy breathy vocals. Man, as the first track plays out, I couldn't wait for my headspace to sing “And then the rain falls” again, such a-

No, wait, this is a different track. Sorry, I meant when the second track plays, I couldn't wait to sing “And then the rain falls” again, where- Wait, it's not this one either? Ah, the one after The Runner then, that's the one that- Huh, not this one either. Wait, it's not until the last track we get And Then The Rain Falls?

So if there's any real criticism to be had with The Javelin, it's that for as wonderfully written and produced these tracks are, Blue Amazon essentially has only one song in their repertoire. It's a hum-dinger of a tune, with some aesthetic differences between each iteration (ooh, such gnarly acid in No Other Love!). When every track has me subconsciously anticipating “And then the rain falls”, however, well...

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Various - Balance 027: Magda

Balance Records: 2015

The only reason I'm reviewing so many Balance mixes, this. Yeah, I've said I kept tabs on the series, but wasn't inspired to look back either. Magda though, I'm always on the look-out for more mixes from her, so when I heard she'd been tapped for the venerated prog and tech-house brand, you bet I double spit-taked. Ms. Chojnacka's aesthetic is so outside the traditional Balance wheel-house, it may as well be on a different planet. I suppose one could made a distant connection to Joris Voorn, in that they've both done Hawtin-esque ultra-mixes, but that's about it.

Maybe Balance felt the need for another change though, having used up just about all the prog veterans to this point. Perhaps Danny Tenaglia's heavy techno outing had the Balance staff feeling that pull (which would explain why this was followed by Stacey Pullen). Or supposedly they realized they'd never had a woman do a mix for them. With an utter dearth of prominent lady jocks within prog circles, however, they had to reach beyond the genre aisles to make amends.

So this doesn't come off like a typical Balance release, instead seemingly celebrating Magda's own history in the commercial mix domain. The cover art is like a scrapbook of her prior outings (open mouth for Fabric 49; creepy doll/mannequin from She's A Dancing Machine). As such, the music within adheres to no past trends within Balance canon, no established genres carried upon. This is a Magda set through and through, and if you only come to this series' style of prog and tech-house, you're gonna' have a bad time.

Yet I feel so hypocritical enjoying the weirdo minimal and odd-ball nu-jazz of CD1, because isn't this the sort of stuff that soured me on Agoria's set? A little, yeah, but Magda just does it better. Really, she does better what a lot of her peers do (for sure a lone bright spot during 'mnml's suffocating dominance), and its a crying shame she never got the due others received, but perhaps appearing on Balance would help endear her to a fresh audience. Or not, her quirky selections being a bit much for the prog faithful. Heck, some of the 'tunes' toward the end of CD1 were a bit much for me, and I'm usually more than willing to take the ride on whatever strange road Magda drives us on.

Anyway, CD1's traditionally the 'indulgent' set in these Balance releases, but does the clubbier CD2 deliver in any shape or form? If you like your stripped-down tech-house and acid boogie, most definitely! It's more straight-forward compared to Magda's older commercial mixes – no super-dense mash-ups of four minimal techno tracks at once, or something – but gets my shoulders shufflin' and my bottom wigglin' in my chair just the same. Once again, Ms. Chojnacka remains one of the few who delivers exactly what I like to hear in this style of music. To be fair though, it's been a very small sample size.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Various - Balance 026: Hernán Cattáneo

Balance Records: 2014

For a decade, one man, and one man alone, ruled the Renaissance (brand): Hernán Cattáneo. Sorry, Dave Seaman, but when it comes to the '00s, it's hard thinking of the venerated label's many DJ mix collections without automatically thinking of the Argentinian. While Seaman would often have flights of fancy with Global Underground, Hernán stayed true to Renaissance, contributing seven sets until the label... Well, didn't exactly close doors, but certainly aren't in any rush to release DJ mixes anymore either. Where was Mr. Cattáneo to go, then? Start his own label? Ah, he's a pretty popular DJ, but not that popular, such that he transcends his niche. Surely there's another brand that's still chugging along though, that's been quite open in taking in the prog elite? You bet there is!

So finding his way into the arms of Balance was inevitable, but who'd have thought Hernán would go full Thanos and dominate this label too? Not only did he make his premiere on the mainline series, but became the first DJ to have a (proper) repeat showing in the newer Balance Presents sub-series with Sudbeat. And then he did it again with Balance Presents Sunsetstrip, becoming the first DJ to have three outings with the brand. Not even Jimmy Van M accomplished that! (note: Jimmy was indeed the first jock to have a 'sequel' with Balance, Balance Issue N. 10.1, but no one ever mentions that).

You know what else Hernán does here that Jimmy already did before? Include a Boards Of Canada track, is what (that Jimmy, always the trailblazer). Mind, the track included here is probably the most obvious BoC tune anyone could have used (“Orange.”), but if it means we're in for another unconventional mid-tempo outing from one of prog's luminaries, I'm down for that.

It's... not quite that. If anything, CD1 feels like a prog set played at 33, or with a lot of Kompakt influence (hi, The Field!). There's a little synth-pop and indie croon (Weval's Out Of The Game; YEWS' Believe, Belong; Mercurio & Catnapp's On My Way To Hell), but we're mostly in mildly groovy, quite melodic, ultra blissy music here, with occasional quirky flourishes to keep things a little spicy. Just wish much of it would stick in my mind after, beyond a general feeling of “eh, that was nice while it played”. Like, maybe two non-BoC tracks really leaped out for me, but not much else.

And it's weird that such a quibble should hold CD1 back, but not Hernán's second set, because CD2 is exactly the sort of proggy outing where I can't really recall highlights either. Yet, from start to finish, I'm all in for the ride, rhythms powering on with melodic peaks and valleys to spare. Maybe I'm just held in awe that, even this late in the game, Mr. Cattáneo still finds records serving up that vintage prog style that so many (so very many...) thought long since dead and buried. How he do, mang'?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Various - Balance 024: Danny Howells

Balance Records: 2013

Did I misremember things? Wasn't Danny Howells part of some famed group, like Nick Warren with Way Out West or Darren Emerson with Underworld? There was Science Department (with Dick Trevor) and Squelch (with Tim Cook), but neither released more than a handful of singles, much less timeless, genre-defining club anthems. Maybe it's just the name “Danny Howells” looking like the most typical of British names you'd find in the credits of so much '90s Britronica.

But nay, Mr. Howells main avenue of revenue is disc jockeying, also among the newer breed of prog DJs that came up in the wake of Sasha and Digweed's dominance. He became a regular contributor to the Renaissance series, did occasional spots for Global Underground, plus had his own short-lived outings called Nocturnal Frequencies (no, not Nokturnel). When those respected series fell by the wayside, Balance was there to scoop up the alum for a rinse out on their brand, and Danny was no less tempted within.

At which we find ourselves at an interesting juncture within the prog-osphere. The dark, tribal sound of yesteryear was long gone, the 'minimal' bandwagon derailed into a ditch, and no clear future of where things would go next. No longer so counted on to be clubbing tastemakers, jocks like Danny could indulge themselves down less-travelled roads, and with Balance still holding onto some rep' as being the series to do as you wish, Danny does indeed.

First though, the obligatory nitpick of both sets: these are some soft-ass beats here. Like, real mellow music, with such smooth mixing even the peaks and valleys are edged down to rolling hills. There are times when I wished things could crank up another notch or three, but it is what it is. If Mr. Howells is feeling chill in his aging years, who am I to complain about tunes kept at a relative simmer.

CD1: That is the disc where Danny does his most exploring, providing tunes that work in small bunches but don't coalesce into a narrative whole. Going from future garage to deep tech to techno to deep house isn't the daftest of directions, and the tunes doing the work all sound fine. I just sense these are tracks being played for their own sake, because Mr. Howells had them, wanted to showcase them, but lacked the time and space to do the styles more justice. It doesn't help that CD2: This starkly contrasts with its laser-focused celebration of all things space disco.

We've heard spots and hints of this stuff in previous Balance sets, but the opening half of disc two goes whole hog on the glittery cosmic funk. Somehow, Danny even throws in Balearic touches, such that you feel like you're disco dancing on an Enceladus beachfront overlooking Saturn's rings. Even when he detours for some de-e-e-ep house (Brotherland) and classic prog (Pages), he brings it back with a pair of Prins Thomas remixes. Overall, a lovely outing, and quaintly retro at a breezy fourteen tracks.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Various - Balance 020: Deetron

Balance: 2011

Venturing into unknown territory here, in more ways than one. Yeah, this is the first time I've wandered beyond Agoria's Balance set, but as mentioned, I did keep tabs on which DJs would come and go. Pretty nearly all, I was somewhat familiar with. The vets of old (Timo Maas, Nick Warren, Funk D'Void), the newer cats gaining buzz (Nic Fanciulli, Henry Saiz, Radio Slave), and such. Deetron, however, is a comparative blank for me. Like, I'm sure I've seen the name pop up here and there, but there were no tracks or remixes of his that nabbed my attention, no massive hype cycles proclaiming this or that set as decade defining. I won't deny some of that may be due to my own lack of exploration of some scenes, but considering I haven't had this problem with most other jocks in this series (within the main line, at least), it does feel odd having this much of a blank regarding Deetron.

And Lord Discogs isn't much help either, simply stating Swiss-born Sam Geiser as having been using the Deetron alias for a good two decades now. The bulk of his singles came out through famed Belgian print Music Man Records, and appearing on numerous DJ mixes from jocks ranging quite the spectrum (Pete Tong, Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Ken Ishii, Stanny Franssen, Knee Deep, Frango (2)). Boy, folks sure liked that I Cling tune. Was that the bump that got Deetron enough notice for a Balance set?

Though the series had drifted away from mega-conceptual mixes, Mr. Deets brings a couple different approaches with each disc he's given: one done digitally, the other analogue. Won't deny seeing a twenty-six tracker for the Digital CD1 had me a little side-eyed with visions of Joris Voorn, but the analogue set has one track more, so why should I worry? And disc one is fine enough, though changes pace in tone so many times it's hard to gain any moment. It felt like Sam was using digital's abilities to coerce transitions between tracks that really had no business being together, but it didn't create a disjointed mess either. Besides, it worked well enough for Jimmy Van M, so no sense niggling the inconsequential details. Speaking of Jimmy, Deetron opens CD1 with Autechre's Egg, which Van M also used, marking this, I believe, the first instance of a repeat song within Balance canon. Of course Jimmy would do it first.

Digital may be more diverse with its deep house and nu-jazz and downbeats and Throbbing Gristles, but I'm fully on the train with Analogue, a proper house 'n' techno ride that keeps the pace steady and on the up. I can almost feel Deetron riding the wheels of steel with each transition, and gosh, wouldn't you know it, kinda' makes me want to check out those Fabric and DJ-Kicks outings of his, if it's more of this! Not so much the first disc though. Would definitely need to try before I buy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Various - Balance 016: Agoria (2020 Update)

EQ Recordings: 2010

(Click here to read my original TranceCritic review)

Three things I need touching upon. First, and probably most important for a supposed 'review blog', how has Balance 016 held up? Pretty good I'd say, in that this was already such a marmite set, there's no way one's opinion of it would change a decade later. Like, maybe if you dismissed it after an initial spin, then returned to it with a different perspective, that might improve it for some. Or you forced yourself to enjoy it from the outset for 'reasons', then never gave it another play because 'other reasons'. That's certainly a possibility. Can't say either has happened to me though.

My thoughts on Agoria's contribution to the Balance series are about the same as they were in my original review from a decade ago (holy cow!). Some great highs (that The Field track!), some lows (French Kiss, just... no), and a lot of meandering middles that I don't mind while playing, but aren't in a rush to replay either. I will reiterate, however, that I do prefer Agoria's sloppier approach to genre-mashing compared to Joris Voorn's clinical take. It's somehow more exhilarating, like you're always anticipating the wheels coming off the tracks at any moment.

Second off, where did Agoria go from here? He got tapped for Fabric a year later, which isn't surprising since that series gets everyone eventually. Another album followed, but he pretty much floated around the DJ circuit with sporadic singles on various trendy labels throughout the '10s (Hotflush, Innervisions, !K7 Records). Eventually he set up his own print in Sapiens, and just this past year released another LP, which included... hip-hop? Huh, well, you do you.

My thirdly item doesn't have anything to do with Agoria, but rather the Balance series itself. Seems Balance 016 was the end of a particular era, where ultra genre-showcases and challenging DJ mixes went by the wayside. Following this, Balance started tapping veteran jocks of the proggy tech-house scene with more regularity, only a few token nods to newer cats taken in the ensuing decade. I'm not sure why this sudden change occurred - perhaps due to the series branching off from EQ Recordings into its own independent label? Gotta' draw in new fans with old reliables, I guess. Won't get you high marks with Resident Advisor anymore though.

It was this change of distribution when I stopped following Balance, no longer so attainable through Canadian shops (not that they were before). I kept in touch with the series just to see who'd do a set and all, but it wasn't until much later that I reconnected, thanks to one particular, and surprising DJ coming in. At that point I figured some older releases had come down in price enough to warrant a splurge. A few, which is where all these non-TranceCritic reviewed Balances are coming from (sans 007). Obviously, Holden was not among the 'Balance on a budget' spree, though I've heard upon the southern winds that a reissue happened this past orbital cycle...

Monday, February 10, 2020

Various - Balance 015: Will Saul

EQ Recordings: 2009

Won't deny, I had low thoughts about this one when I first saw it advertised a decade ago. I generally liked the Balance series to that point, but Joris Voorn's contribution had me wondering whether things were taking a turn for the over-indulgent, hipster-baiting path. Glancing at the tracklist didn't allay my suspicions either, what with inclusions from Ricardo Villalobos' Minimoonstar, Hercules & Love Affair, Seth 'he so crazy!' Troxler, and that new-fangled 'dubstep' the kids wouldn't shut up about, b'gar. Throw in a cover shot that has Mr. Saul looking like he's posing for Craft Beers Monthly (“This Issue, The 20 Best New IPAs From Mercer Island You MUST Try!”), and yeah, my totally sad first impression wasn't good.

But Will Saul's 3CD set for Balance is good. Real damn good. Ignore what Late 2009 Sykonee thinks. He was getting disillusioned about things anyway.

Besides, my ignorant thoughts were mostly due to ignorance of who Will Saul is. I assume he's a fairly big deal in the UK, though I hadn't heard of him before, and haven't heard much of him since. Has a couple labels behind his belt. Recently released his second album. Look, I've limited word count here, and I'd rather spend it discussing these CDs over Mr. Saul's biography.

And what a lovely assortment of CDs we have here. We're deep in Balance's 'No Genres Off Limits!' era, and with three discs to indulge himself, Will indulges himself indeed. Instead of making each CD strict genre exercises though, Mr. Saul works a general theme while dedicating significant chunks of his sets to specific styles. CD1 gets in on that deep house and space disco vibe, with a tasty acid and Chicago closer. CD2 is the more (then) conventional set of the three, sticking to trendy, minimalist tech-house before taking a slight detour into Detroit's back alleys. Then, in a total tonal shift, Will finishes the set out with future garage (still called 'dubstep' back then). Yeah, that's probably just as trendy, but I like this stuff, so it coo'.

Opening CD3 with reggae dub though? Oh... oh my! Who in the history of Balance has done that? Okay, Jimmy Van M, kinda', but that was just one song, whereas Will spends eight. Some of it is modern 'reggae dub', sure (re: dubstep that actually honours its Jamaican roots), but as found elsewhere across Balance 015, he mixes these (then) contemporary styles with vintage stuff quite nicely. Things move on from there into funk and soul (old and new, including Wolf + Lamb), plus garage and house, with mostly (then) new stuff trying to sound like way old stuff. The retro was in full swing by the late '00s, absolutely.

So yeah, I quite like Will Saul's CD3 here, and even enjoy CD1 despite not having quite as much to say about it. CD2 feels quite of its time though, but is fine for what it offers. Plus, very little of Minimoonstar was used. I LOL'd.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Various - Balance 014: Joris Voorn (Original TC Review)

EQ Recordings: 2009

(2020 Update:
Probably the Most Important release in the
Balance series, and I don't claim that with snark, believe me. There had already been critically lauded releases before, but none of them got everyone buzzing quite like this one did. And despite Balance carrying on to this day, there hasn't been another grabbing the same level of attention as Voorn's contribution did. In fact, after a run of releases that served as a sort of Trilogy in DJs showing off the extreme side of genre eclecticism... well, I'll get to that when I get to it. Ultimately though, 014 was pretty much the peak of Balance being regarded as the premiere DJ mix series lauded by music journalists.

Can't say I've come back to this much. It was fine re-listening to it again, favoring CD2 over CD1 a little more now. Voorn's set still feels too reliant on the gimmick over the track selection though, and if I'm gonna' indulge in one of these massive mix-n-mash ultra-sets, I'd sooner throw on Magda's
She's A Dancing Machine - it's 'funner'! (yes, I had to get that name-drop in there as another obligatory 'it's been done' snipe)).

IN BRIEF: A trainspotter’s wet-dream.

Whether it be paid journalists, obsessive bloggers, or casual commentators, this is the kind of release such folk eagerly anticipate adding their two cents about. With a track list this big and eclectic [102 in all], Joris Voorn’s contribution to the Balance series screams for opinions, and plenty of people were ready to cast judgment on his mix sound unheard. Commercial DJ sets, after all, are traditionally done as a means of providing new music for the home listener or to promote said DJ to a potential wider audience, and you only need around ten to twenty-five tracks on a CD to accomplish this (dependent on the style of music, of course). To do something more, however, tags the mix with a bright neon “Artistic Statement” sign, from which folks will debate the merits of such a statement well before it’s even released.

Mind, Balance has long been an outlet for DJs to indulge themselves with concept mixes. EQ Recordings practically encourages it, and it’s certainly paid off for the label, in that it’s established itself as one of the premier DJ mix series – fans now tend to come away somewhat underwhelmed if the chosen jock(s) doesn’t do something unique. So, the fact Voorn seems to have willfully dove into a concept mix of this sort got all the commentators giddy. After all, here was once again an opportunity to discuss the merits of commercial DJ mixes as a something uniquely artistic which, in this age of podcasts and radio sets aplenty, does seem to be a dying artform; and this was the same reason commentators feared tackling Balance 014 as well.

Voorn’s tracklist seems to gleefully taunt any kind of criticism. Indeed, how can one be critical of something that has apparently been crafted with such passion and care? To say anything negative about Balance 014 automatically paints such a critic as someone who doesn’t appreciate artistic endeavors, thus rendering their opinions on such matters moot. Forget whether the music is actually good or not, it must be praised on concept alone.

Maybe I’d be willing to fall sway to this massive tracklist like so many others have if I thought there was something truly uniquely clever going on here. Yes, for a series that typically caters to the progressive house sect (whatever sound ‘prog’ currently represents), a CD1 with fifty-plus tracks does look impressive. But it’s not like Voorn’s playing all these as individual songs; rather, he’s cherry-picked bits and pieces to create a collage of dubby tech-house that plays out quite like a traditional prog set (re: atmospheric lead, groovy build, mid-set peak, indulgent third-act, climax/outro). On one hand, this does make it somewhat more impressive than Richie Hawtin’s DE9 mix (and indeed, Voorn’s own Fuse, a similar technical showcase), as there is ample amount of actual melody involved that creates a definite narrative. Yet compared to the wild-yet-cohesive ‘cut’n’paste’ antics of turntablists like Coldcut, Z-Trip, and DJ Shadow, Voorn’s effort here seems timid.

“Enough,” you say, “just fucking tell me if this is worth my pennies or not, f’er crissakes!” The Mizuiro disc most definitely is. As mentioned, it flows seamlessly from beginning to end, taking your ears on a lovely little journey through various atmospheres, pleasing melodies, groovy passages, and sinister soundscapes. Although the ketamine-murk of the second half may not be everyone’s cup of chamomile, Voorn ends the disc on a lovely bit of psychedelic ambiance from an obscure Alter Ego side-project, making it worth your while to let the whole disc play out – after all, such tranquility is only enhanced by the menace that comes before. The only quibble to be had is the lead into this ambient outro, as it makes use of a mild tease of a build, suggesting a more vigorous climax to Mizuiro. All is forgiven once you realize where Voorn aims to take you instead, mind, but a tease it remains.

The Midori Mix, on the other hand, comes across as a mish-mash of leftover ideas. It opens strongly with bright house beats and fresh funk, but quickly drops back into the k-hole with dark, dubby minimal-tech. This of itself is nifty head music, yet comes off redundant if you’ve just listened to Mizuiro; and makes the vigorous beginning of CD2 seem rather pointless, especially so since Voorn keeps lowering the tempo until we’re floating in beatless lounge-chill mid-way through. From there, Midori keeps jumping all over the place: disco-funk makes a return, then is promptly dropped again in favor of ambient; some jazzy-soul passages come by, yet don’t seem to relate to the rest of the mix in any way. Of course, the actual music is perfectly fine –the lack of a cohesive narrative to it all is what holds CD2 down in terms of an endearing listen.

I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t really been highlighting titles Voorn as used. Truthfully, there’s very little point in doing so, in that his mix isn’t about individual tracks. And to be perfectly honest, the music works better the less familiar you are with the tunes he’s used – you’ll end up just letting yourself go with the flow of his set rather than endlessly trainspotting the bits and pieces he’s used. Frankly, I found myself distracted by playing too much “I See What You Did There” with the tracks I was most familiar with. Example: Leftfield’s Rino’s Prayer: I kept waiting for the beats of the original to drop, and felt hanging when he instead just looped the dub-throb effect of the original. I’m sure there are a number of similar examples others could point out with their listening experience of this. Granted, some folks thoroughly enjoy doing so. Much like Boards Of Canada fans love hunting for sonic easter eggs, or Star Wars Prequel fans love scouring the background of Lucus’ effects-laden scenes, some could spend hours dissecting what Voorn has done with what during the course of his sets (spoiler alert: if you go to his website, you can watch a Flash animation that lays it out for you). Yet, in doing so, we’re praising production gimmickry, not musical merit.

In that regard, I cannot in good conscience give Balance 014 the super-high marks others have given it. Yes, the technical aspects are awesome, but I’m here to judge the final musical product, not studio tricks. And Voorn’s mix is musically good, not great. While I can’t fault the ambition that went into this, it unfortunately comes across as needlessly overcooked across two discs. And ultimately, were I to throw on a hour-long mix with forty-plus tracks, I’d sooner grab a Soulwax set – it may be messier, but it’s definitely more fun.

Written by Sykonee for, 2009. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Various - Balance 013: SOS

EQ Recordings: 2008

Thirteen volumes deep, and the Balance series came full circle. Or looped around. Reached into its past. Had its first instance of a returning DJ, is what I'm getting at. This time though, he's with two other chaps as a super-group (before being in a super-group was cool). In a more subtle sense, Balance 013 brings in Omid '16B' Nourizadeh for the first time. You might recall I've come into contact with him via his Changing Shape alias, the track Keep It On opening Bill Hamel's contribution to the Nokturnel Mix Sessions series. And Bill Hamel did the third volume of the Balance series! Which means... which means... I could really go for a side of bacon in my next breakfast.

The inlay blurb (and Discogs entry) has quite the lengthy spiel of positive hyperbole regarding Omid, Desyn, and Demi's impact upon the clubbing scene. As I look back upon those heady years of the late '00s, however, I fail recalling anything of the collective called SOS. Maybe it was mostly in the UK and Europe they did their damage, the cross-Atlantic markets denied their tours. Still, as with Deysen's own career, SOS seemed to have disappeared from the Discoggian archives as the 2010s took hold. Not that there was much prior either, but when clubbing culture became all about the super-group DJ squads, I can't imagine SOS stood out from the pack as much anymore.

Still, compared to some of the Balance sets of the period (*cough-012-cough*), this has held up quite well. It's not a brilliant 3CD set by any stretch, and would likely be poo-poo'd out of Very Important critical discussion compared to the series' follow-ups. Very little feels dated though, tunes that knew exactly what they were aiming for, with DJs deploying them in an efficient manner.

Well, maybe not so much CD1. Clearly meant to be the 'chill-out' set, this one's too scattershot to accomplish its goal. Yeah, I like hearing Speedy J's De-Orbit and Bryan Ferry's Don't Stop The Dance, but in cramming the variety they do with competing visions, it comes off rather aimless and jumbled. Stick to the dancefloors, mates.

So they do, CDs two and three riding things out with acid house, Balearic prog, spacey disco, beefy breakbeats, and Aeroplane. Someone in SOS sure loves them some Aeroplane. About the only time things go super hands-in-the-air is with Michael Cassette's Shadow's Movement, but their retro sounds are charming enough for an anthem, so I'll allow it.

As much as I grooved to these sets though, I can't say they often got me excited either. It could just be the three-disc format making it difficult to take in all at once, but then other 3CDers in this series don't have that problem. For better or worse, I know what each set sounded like in other Balances, whereas they blended together here. Still not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but for certain, it is a thing.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

ACE TRACKS: December 2019 / Janurary2020

It's funny how you can work for years building towards something, do everything to put yourself into a position where a goal is within your grasp, hype yourself to the Right People such that you should be a shoo-in for the switch-up... Only to take a look at the situation just before it's Go Time and think, “Mm, nah. I'm better off where I'm at.” Could it have been cold feet? A little, though I can't say the circumstances were completely in my favour either. The one or two uncertainties reared their head, which would have led to a frustrated, disgruntled, not-very happy Sykonee in the short term, I just know. Nay, better to keep rockin' and killin' where I'm currently at, with a less stressful, more fun opportunity presenting itself in the near future. As I say, funny how that works out.

Thank you for this month's performing rendition of Vague Bloggin'! Now, here are the ACE TRACKS from *checks notes* the past two months!

Full track list here.

Various - Balance 008: Desyn Masiello
Various - Balance 007: Chris Fortier
Various - Back To Mine: Faithless

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 10%
Percentage Of Rock: 0%
Most “WTF?” Track: Out Of Range by Swollen Members, maybe.

No surprise Gas dominates this playlist, what with having covered the Nah Und Fern box-set. Aside from that though, there's a remarkable amount of diversity in here, if rather slight. Nothing like several 'casual listening' collections to spice the selection up.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Various - Balance Issue N. 12: Lee Burridge

EQ Recordings: 2007

Lee Burridge's adamant he's not prog-house DJ, that he only got roped into that demarcation due to his associations with Sasha's inner circle. Even when he was tapped for the Global Underground offshoot Nubreed series, he went out of his way to include tunes outside the traditional prog-house scope (Deep house! Tech-house! Breakbeats!) And as his career progressed (har, har), he gained a reputation as that 'progressive DJ' you'd go to see if you wanted to hear a varied, eclectic set of tunes, especially on the techno side of things. Cool beans, yo', and now he's tasked with a Balance 3CD set, where previous jocks had worked outside the borders of traditional mix CDs, showcasing eclectic tastes, leftfield genres-

It's minimal. All the way through. *sigh* It is 2007, I guess, the nadir of this trend with prog circles.

I'd be fine with just one disc of the stuff - play it, conclude it's rubbish, never play it again. To dedicate all three to the sound though, with nary a bone thrown to any other genre in existence...

Supposedly Lee wanted this set to represent what you'd hear at a night out him performing, but with dance music as useless to dance to as this, I'd just as soon hang outside with the smokers all night. Maybe wander off for a street kebab before returning to hear if things have gotten better. Nope, still monotonous *thup-thup*.

This isn't even the oft' derided plinky-plonk minimal, but the much worse 'blippy-blomp' strain that 'prog' DJs typically rinsed out. No momentum in the rhythms, tracks perfunctorily played one after the other, utterly devoid of hooks, and all too inwardly fascinated by random sounds and effects. It's the sort of wibble-wankery that psy-trance gets mocked for, but at least psy has some energy to it, what with a rolling bassline cranked to 140bpm and all. No surprise one of 'mnml's biggest acts came from the prog-psy camps.

Mind, there are differences in each CD. Disc one (Orange) is the slower and moodier of the three, and at least has some atmosphere to it thanks to sporadic pads. It also kinda' builds like a traditional prog-house set (breakdowns!), though we're talking the inclination or a street curb here. CD2 (Red) is the most tedious of the lot, somehow getting slower as it moves along, with no track feeding off the last. CD3 (Green) at first had me thinking Lee was gonna' step things up a notch, some actual beef in the beats of opener Dubbel Problematik from Tomas Andersson. We're still a couple years before the Berghain sound came to dominate though, so it's right back into blippty-bloopy minimal. Still, the tracks in Green do maintain a fun, skippity rhythm.

If nothing else, Balance 012 provides a suitable snapshot of a clubbing scene completely devoted to the bandwagon it'd jumped upon. For a time, this was the sound many were certain would carry them into the future. Naturally, none of them would ever play this way again.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Various - Balance 010: Jimmy Van M (Original TC Review)

EQ Recordings: 2006

(2020 Update:
Wow, doing 2020 updates now... that's crazy. Ahem..

Jimmy and Chris Fortier were pretty much my favorite 2nd tier prog house/trance jocks, so it's funny that their triple-CD offerings for the
Balance series ended up having opposite effects on me. Whereas I only liked and returned to CD3 of Fortier's set, I've never returned to CD3 of Jimmy's set (and vice-versa with the other discs). However, whereas I've come around to Fortier's other mixes, re-listening to CD3 here only reaffirms just how much these prog-house guys struggled finding their way in the wave of minimal's trendy dominance.

Still, credit due to Mr. van M, paving the way for all those future
Balance releases where eclecticism was celebrated. True, it got a little out of hand, such that the series felt obligated to return to more traditional DJ mix CD outings, but... eh, we'll get there when we get there. For now, I'll simply admit having serious bias to these mixes over the others, in that half the track selection here could have come from my own collection of music.)

IN BRIEF: A mix for electronic music fans by an electronic music fan.

Jimmy Van M is one of those DJs who, despite being in the business for several years, never quite moved beyond underground darling status. While often tapped by Sasha and Digweed to be their warm-up act on tours, his profile has consistently remained stuck in the trenches of clubland while the superstars grab the spotlight.

Still, Jimmy earned him a loyal following that has given him the freedom to explore DJing avenues some would consider counter-productive to creating a larger profile. Take his first official DJ mix. When Ministry Of Sound tapped him for the debut American version of their popular Trance Nation series, ol’ M delivered to them a trance set that was a far cry from the style UK runner Ferry Corsten was compiling. It was, as the old schoolers of the time termed it, “proper trance”, a prog trance set that could have given the heavyweights a run for their money. Of course, for a series known for its epic anthems, this just wouldn’t do and it wasn’t the best way to make a first impression on the masses. Small surprise the follow-up Trance Nation America featured Corsten clone George Acosta and Top 40 favorite ATB.

Perhaps going against the grain was the point though. Jimmy’s style hints at being a music lover first and a DJ second, and the constraint often imposed on DJs by major labels would definitely be unappealing. It seems the Balance series has come along and offered him the freedom of a mix he desires.

So what we have here is an eclectic collection of music spanning nearly two decades, all arranged into three differing discs. Anyone with a passing familiarity with electronic music should recognize a number of these tracks - heck, even steady readers of this website will notice a few (Bill Laswell, Boards Of Canada, Peter Benisch, and others scattered about). Given the amount of time covered, Balance 010 may look like a Back To Mine or Choice collection rather than a current DJ mix, but Jimmy’s arrangement is silky smooth. Tracks sometimes separated by a decade flow together with remarkable skill. As for the details of each disc, they display very unique personalities which fit their tempos.

The most diverse of the lot is the Downtempo Mix. Sets like this one are tricky to pull off, in that the listener’s attention can easily wander when listening to chill music. And even if the strength of individual tracks keeps it from becoming wallpaper muzak, a downtempo set can still lack cohesion if one tries to compile it like a typical dance set; this is music meant to chill out to. So what Jimmy has done here is created a set that dwells on one style for a bit, then moves onto a different style through a bridging bit of ambiance. Dubby world music, psychedelic chill, loungy acid jazz, and avant garde pop all have moments to hold the stage. Because each segment typically runs for only a couple tracks before an ambient interlude leaves it behind, the tempos on this disc wildly vary, which greatly helps keep your attention to see where the mix will take you next. Listening to M’s arrangement of these songs is like floating along a dreamy river where, just when you feel like you’ve gotten a handle on the scenery around you, the landscape morphs into something unexpected yet fits with what came before.

In case the loose nature of the Downtempo Mix has you fearing the others are going to be like that, worry not: the Midtempo Mix tightens things up considerably.

Oh, not all at once, mind you. The opening bit of the second disc displays the same amount of genre-jumping as the first, going from Miles Tilmann’s intelligent techno offerings into something more ethereal and organic for a couple tracks afterwards (including the haunting oldie Blue Bell Knoll from Cocteau Twins - now there’s something unexpected in a ‘dance’ mix!). Jimmy returns us to the intelligent techno after this diversion, although it isn’t the glitchy noise-fest the term IDM has become associated with. Most of it is the mellow grooving sort that would often be found on plenty of ambient techno compilations from the early '90s. Heck, Aphex Twin’s Delphium was on such compilations. There’s a fair deal of newer material within this lot though, including some super-rare material from Adam Johnson: the bottom-heavy track Kriegspiel is definitely a highlight here.

Towards the end of the Midtempo Mix, Jimmy smoothly moves us from the techno into territory he’s more known for: prog house. There’s only a few tracks to gorge on here, but each easily fits the within the mix’s dark, groovy futuristic theme. Also, one might find playing the full fifteen minutes of Underworld’s remix of Cool Kids Of Death cheeky, but given the fact the track manages to hold your interest for the duration is a testament to that group’s songcraft prowess.

And now the third disc. The Uptempo Mix... well, uptempo when compared to the other two. The BPM doesn’t get much higher than the mid-130s, which, for a DJ known mostly for prog house, is about par for the course.

Here, Jimmy keeps things current. Every track is from the year 2006 and not a moment earlier. Because this is more of a representation of what you might hear at a club rather than something for at home, this mix doesn’t display anywhere near the diversity of the other two. The quick and easy lump term for it would probably be (cringe) ‘minimal,’ but aside from a few early tracks, M remains within tech house’s territory... and prog house, I guess, since that genre’s been borrowing elements of tech and minimal lately. Ah, hell. Since there’s generous influences from many other styles of music lurking in this tech house mix (trance, tribal, acid, electro), let’s just call this style “...Except-The-Kitchen-Sink House.” Or, like so many others, minimal tech-house. Argh! I’m going bleary eyed with all these adjectives! Anyhow, this is mostly tech house with prog influences, and despite having the Uptempo header, is quite low-key in its delivery. Things do groove along nicely for the most part and there’s a good acid peak-out moments in the middle courtesy of Tom Pooks’ Docker, but as with much of this kind of music, it makes better sense on the dancefloor or while doing something active than sitting back at home.

The particulars out of the way, I suppose I should answer the big question: is this edition of the Balance series worth your money if you happen to own a number of these tracks elsewhere. The strength of Jimmy’s mix (any good DJ’s, really) is in taking tracks dedicated trainspotters are familiar with and putting them into a set where they can take on a new context. Hell, I never would have imagined Delphium would have worked as a perfect segue into prog house, yet M pulls it off with ease here (as just one example of many available). However, the Uptempo Mix doesn’t quite live up the expectations set out by the first two, so Balance 010 doesn’t get the super high marks a top notch DJ mix would normally earn.

In spite of this, Jimmy’s offering for the Balance series is a worthy pick up for electronic music lovers. The first two discs will easily remind you why you fell in love with this music in the first place, and the third is a decent bonus to groove on.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic, 2006. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Various - Balance 008: Desyn Masiello

EQ Recordings: 2005

Before getting into Desyn Masiello's contribution to the Balance series, I feel it necessary to confirm that, yes, I don't have James Holden's edition. For sure I've heard it, and I thought to myself, “Gosh, if it ever comes down in price, I may pick that up.” It never did, growing more pricey as the years went on. Not some of those other Balance mixes though!

Straight up, I don't know much about Mr. Masiello, and to be fair, neither does the modern internet. Chap apparently had quite the run of success within prog-house circles at the start of the '00s, often name-dropped among the Next Generation of DJs leading that scene into the future. Except he didn't, nearly any records of solo output drying up from Discoggian archives following this release, retreating into the DJ conglomerate SOS thereafter. No follow-up DJ mixes, no big singles, and no in-demand remixes. For all intents, Desyn peaked out with Balance 008, then decided the fame of having a 'Best of 2005' set out on the market was all the taste of the limelight he needed. Time to get back behind the decks, with two other guys running photo interference.

By the by, when I saw Discoggian posts claiming Balance 008 got a 'Best Of 2005' honour, I had a hard time figuring out from who. Like, DJ Mag, or Mixmag? Surely not Resident Advisor, but lo', when I checked, there it was! I couldn't believe they would have considered a set such as this among the best releases of that year, but then, RA was still in the habit of dishing out 3.5/5's to the likes of Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren. Ah, your older shame will never be wiped away, RA.

Right, the music. It definitely isn't 'prog' in any traditional sense, that's for sure. I've seen the word electro bandied about for Desyn's selection, but coming off Chris Fortier's proper electro exercise in Balance 007, that just won't do either. Still, there's definitely something of an '80s space disco vibe going on with CD1, with occasional Moroder basslines sprinkled about the retro synths. Even when Desyn tries steering things into traditional prog and anthem house territory for the finish, there's still that space disco feeling lingering in the air.

Chris Lake's piano anthem Changes ends CD1 on a pretty big high, almost impossible to follow upon in CD2. So Mr. Masiello doesn't even try, instead getting a little indulgent by opening with Orbital's Halcyon Anonanon. Okay, sure, not my favourite Orbital tune, but I'm sure has plenty of personal feels for Desyn. This set's a bit all over the place though, running through loopy disco house, funky synthy house, Hed Kandi anthem house (thanks, Joey Negro), and deeper tech-house. Some good tunes in there, but not as cohesive as CD1 was. Ah well, at least there was no sign of the dreaded 'mnml' bug in here. The Balance series wasn't gonna' hold that off for much longer though.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Various - Balance 007: Chris Fortier

EQ Recordings: 2005

Balance? What is this? I recall that Bill Hamel guy was involved, but when the DJ mix market was flooded with serviceable prog sets with interesting photographic cover art, you'll forgive me for passing on the series' early editions. Tell me that Chris by-God Fortier has been tapped for a whopping 3CD set, however, and you've got my attention! Dude had twice kept my prog faith alive by that point, the previous year's Audiotour all but cementing my notion he could do no wrong. And now he was unleashing a triple-discer of the stuff? Who cares if I have to import it from Australia, there's no way this could go wrong!

Balance 007 became my least played release from Mr. Fortier, some of the CDs un-played since I first threw them on fifteen years ago. Oh... oh no! How did that happen?

It didn't take long to remember the sinking feeling with CD1. With an early run of trendy minimal tech-haus, it was my first indication that the prog bandwagon jump into that genre wasn't going to be pretty. Hell, the tunes from Alex Smoke and 2 Doller Egg aren't even that bad compared to what was to come, but stacked against the deep proggy vibes of Chris' previous mix CD, it was a serious letdown. Shame on me too, because the back-half of CD1 features some mint Soma Quality Recordings techno. My brain just wasn't ready to accept it from a Fortier set, I guess.

Even worse, I was so checked out on what Fortier was doing with Balance 007 that I barely registered he supplied the prog I was craving in CD2. To be fair, the start of this disc is somewhat misleading, getting in on a little menacing robot music action. Plus, Vector Lovers is here! Oh man, hearing one of my favourite electro producers was so unexpected and enjoyed, nothing better could follow it, despite coming so early in the set. Have I mentioned I never realized there's some mighty fine deep, dubby prog in the back-half of CD2, that I only realized just now, after revisiting Balance 007 all these years later?

Honestly though, the main reason the first two discs of this triple-discer faded from my memory is because of CD3, a surprising bonus outing of proper electro from the Fade Records founder (plus a little Floridian and prog-breaks action towards the end). And when I say proper, I mean proper, Mr. Fortier firmly declaring the lamented appropriation of the word for obnoxious acid-fart house music an injustice to the roots of robot-funk music. Aw, man... brother, I feels you so hard in the year 2005, I do. *fist taps the heart* For sure, anytime I grabbed Balance 007, it was always CD3 played first and only. Such a breath of fresh air then, and still holds up remarkably well now. As do the other discs too, even if it took me this long to accept it.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Gas - Nah Und Fern: Pop

Mille Plateaux/Kompakt: 2000/2008

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

One of some dozen ambient albums you're supposed to have, particularly if you're not a fan of ambient music. Naturally, as someone who considers himself a connoisseur of the genre, such a consensus had me a little skeptical of Pop's adulation. It's no small task in paring a scene as long lasting and expansive as this one down to a select few Must Haves, the standouts demanding something truly unique to stand out from the glut of releases.

So when I gave Pop a whirl, I thought to myself, yeah, there's some nice sounding tones, looping samples into an otherworldly atmosphere one can easily lose their headspace in. Isn't this a style already covered by the likes of Zoviet France and Rapoon though? Maybe so, but I'm sure folks checking out the fourth Gas album on the basis of a glowing Pitchfork recommendation weren't the sort to have delved into industrial ambient's back catalogue. Still, I couldn't help but wonder why it was Wolfgang Voigt's project that got such attention from the indie sect, and I could only surmise it being out on Mille Plateaux, a label already gaining hipster cred from its clicks 'n' cuts series of glitch releases. Throw in the cheeky concept of this being a 'pop' album, so named from the choice of orchestral samples being on the lighter side of the music, and you've crafted quite the cocktail of indie swoon.

Such knee-jerk dismissals on my part should have no bearing on how this album holds up though, with plenty of time and distance from initial reactions. To which I say, for the most part, I enjoy this, and even manages to stand distinct from countless other ambient records released since that emulate the otherworldly warmth crafted here (and believe me, there's been plenty). I could leave the first two tracks off Pop, in that those clicky-hissy noises that serve as a pseudo-rhythm do nothing but grate on my senses, almost token throw-away glitch sounds required of a Mille Plateaux release. What are those anyway, money counting machines pitched way up? Just lay the layers of looping drone on me like a warm blanket, Wolf-mang!

Or hey, offer up some of those dubbed-out rhythms, though I'm glad to hear Mr. Voigt found a way to change those up some too, having grown a tad stale by Königsforst. Thus Pop IV features a looping rhythm that cheerfully bounces with an echoing bell tone. Elsewhere, we have the 'classic' Gas dub techno rhythm for the final fifteen-minute closer, lending the track a surprisingly grand atmosphere following all that drone. Pop music indeed.

Could I recommend other ambient albums over this? Yeah, probably, but if you're just getting your feet wet, Pop is as good of an entry point as any for getting a feel of the genre's myriad styles. I have no contention in seeing this appear on 'Best Of' lists. Just, y'know, don't act surprised when I don't include it my own mythical 'Best Of' list.

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave a.r.t.less A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Community Alien Project Alio Die All Saints Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion Ambidextrous ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Anatolya Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Anduin Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Annibale Records Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Paul Kerby Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquarellist Aquascape Aquasky Aquila Arcade Architects Of Existence arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asia Asian Dub Foundation Astral Projection Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Attoya Audion AuroraX Autechre Autistici Autumn Of Communion Avantgarde Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axs Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG B12 Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu Battle Axe Records battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Bent Benz Street US Berlin-School Beto Narme Beyond bhangra Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records Biosphere Bipolar Music BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Amazon Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen Bluetech BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bogdan Raczynzki Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Bonzai Boogie Down Productions Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Bows Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records BPitch Control braindance Brandt Brauer Frick Brasil & The Gallowbrothers Band breakbeats breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Britpop Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Bubble Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bursak Records Bush Busta Rhymes C.I.A. Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records Castroe Cat Sun CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cevin Fisher Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill out chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chris Witoski Christmas Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast City Of Angels CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Club Tools Cocoon Recordings Cold Spring Coldcut Coldplay coldwave Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Convextion Cooking Vinyl Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmo Cocktail Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Crystal Moon Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Current Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Lentz Daniel Pemberton Daniel Wanrooy Danny Howells Danny Tenaglia Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure Darren Nye DAT Records Databloem dataObscura David Alvarado David Bickley David Bridie David Guetta David Morley DDR De-tuned Dead Coast Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Deetron Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Delsin Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit Devin Underwood Deysn Masiello DFA DGC diametric. Dido Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house Disco Pinata Records disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Distinct'ive Breaks Disturbance Divination DJ 3000 DJ Brian DJ Craze DJ Dan DJ Dean DJ Gonzalo DJ Heather DJ John Kelley DJ Merlin DJ Mix DJ Moe Sticky DJ Observer DJ Premier DJ Q-Bert DJ Shadow DJ Soul Slinger DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dooflex Dopplereffekt Dossier Dousk downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house dream pop DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass DrumNBassArena drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune Dusted Dynatron E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earth Nation Earthling Eastcoast Eastcost EastWest Eastworld Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electronic Music Guide Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Emiliana Torrini Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance EQ Recordings Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson Exitab experimental Eye Q Records Ezdanitoff F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer Fantasy Enhancing Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Firescope Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk Fontana footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Frans de Waard Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London futurepop g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Gaither Music Group Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gareth Davis Gary Martin Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Geometry Combat Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah Ghostly International glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Communication Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards Gravediggaz Green Day Grey Area Greytone Gridlock grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru Gustaf Hidlebrand Gusto Records GZA H2O Records Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard techno hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harlequins Enigma Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hefty Records Helen Marnie Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hexstatic Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency Hilyard hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Honest Jon's Records Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Howie B Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! Records I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM Igorrr illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus Indica Records indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Ink Midget Inner Ocean Records Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jackpot Jacob Newman Jafu Jake Stephenson Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jimmy Van M Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Joris Voorn Jørn Stenzel Josh Christie Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Klik Records KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kulor Kurupt Kwook L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lamb Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Le Moors Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Burridge Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Legiac Legowelt Leon Bolier Les Disques Du Crépuscule LFO Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Liquid Zen Live live album LL Cool J Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Masotto Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Magik Muzik Mahiane Mali Mammoth Records Mantacoup Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marco Carola Marco V Marcus Intalex Mark Farina Mark Norman Mark Pritchard Markus Schulz Marshmello Martin Cooper Martin Nonstatic Märtini Brös Marvin Gaye Maschine Massive Attack Masta Killa Matthew Dear Max Graham maximal Maxx MCA Records McProg Meanwhile Meat Loaf Meditronica Memex Menno de Jong Mercury Mesmobeat metal Metamatics Method Man Metroplex Metropolis MF Doom Miami Bass Miami Beach Force Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mantra Michael Mayer Mick Chillage micro-house microfunk Microscopics MIG Miguel Migs Mike Saint-Jules Mike Shiver Miktek Mille Plateaux Millennium Records Mind Distortion System Mind Over MIDI mini-CDs minimal minimal tech-house Ministry Of Sound miscellaneous Misja Helsloot Miss Kittin Miss Moneypenny's Mistical Mixmag Mo Wax Mo-Do MO-DU Moby Model 500 modern classical Modeselektor Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Morgan Morphology Moss Garden Motech Motorbass Moving Shadow Mujaji Murk Murmur Mushy Records Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute MUX Muzik Magazine My Best Friend Mystery Tape Laboratory Mystica Tribe Mystified N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nashville Natural Midi Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neon Droid Neotantra Neotropic nerdcore Nervous Records Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Beat New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Night Time Stories Nightwind Records Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana nizmusic No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu noise Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller North South Northumbria Not Now Music Nothing Records Nova NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-italo nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nunc Stans Nurse With Wound NXP Oasis Octagen Offshoot Offshoot Records Ol' Dirty Bastard Olan Mill Old Europa Cafe old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen OM Records Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oophoi Oosh Open Open Canvas Opium Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Origo Sound Orkidea Orla Wren Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ottsonic Music Ouragan Out Of The Box OutKast Outpost Records Overdream P-Ben Paleowolf Pan Sonic Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Patreon Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Pendulum Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Andersson Peter Benisch Peter Broderick Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Phantogram Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pinch Pink Floyd Pitch Black PJ Harvey Plaid Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Assault Systems Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platinum Platipus Pleq Plump DJs Plunderphonic Plus 8 Records PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings Pole Folder politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep power electronics Prince Prince Paul Prins Thomas Priority Records Profondita prog prog psy prog-psy Progression progressive breaks progressive house progressive rock progressive trance Prolifica Proper Records Prototype Recordings protoU Pryda psy chill psy dub Psy Spy Records psy trance psy-chill psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychomanteum Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Psysolation Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Purple Soil Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quantum Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Rae Raekwon ragga Rainbow Vector raison d'etre Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant Rapoon RareNoise Records Ras Command Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry Refracted reggae remixes Renaissance Renaissance Man Rephlex Reprise Records Republic Records Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Richard Durand Riley Reinhold Ringo Sheena Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Hood Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Ruben Garcia Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun SadGirl Sakanaction Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim Samora sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz SantAAgostino Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Saul Stokes Scandinavian Records Scann-Tec sci-fi Scooter Scott Grooves Scott Hardkiss Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Seaworthy Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Seven Davis Jr. Sghor sgnl_fltr Shackleton Shaded Explorations Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Sidereal Signature Records SiJ Silent Season Silent Universe Silentes Silentes Minimal Editions Silicone Soul silly gimmicks Silver Age Simian Mobile Disco Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simon Scott Simple Records Sinden Sine Silex single Single Gun Theory Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records Sixtoo ska Skare Skin To Skin Skua Atlantic Slaapwel Records Slam Sleep Research Facility Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. SMTG Limited Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg Snowy Tension Pole soft rock Soiree Records International Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment SOS soul Soul Temple Entertainment soul:r Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller space disco Space Manoeuvres space synth Spacetime Continuum Spaghetti Recordings Spank Rock Special D Specta Ciera speed garage Speedy J SPG Music Spicelab Spielerei Spiritech spoken word Spotify Suggestions Spotted Peccary SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stacey Pullen Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Brand Steve Lawler Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Steven Rutter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stormloop Stray Gators Street Fighter Stuart McLean Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Subharmonic Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Subotika Substance Suduaya Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Supercar Superstition surf rock Sven Väth Swayzak Sweet Trip swing Switch Swollen Members Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synth-pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Take Me To The Hospital Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Taylor Tayo tech house tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Telefon Tel Aviv Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Angling Loser The B-52's The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Circular Ruins The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Crystal Method The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Field The Gentle People The Glimmers The Green Kingdom The Grey Area The Hacker The Herbaliser The Human League The Irresistible Force The KLF The Misted Muppet The Movement The Music Cartel The Null Corporation The Oak Ridge Boys The Offspring The Orb The Police The Prodigy The Sabres Of Paradise The Shamen The Sharp Boys The Sonic Voyagers The Squires The Tea Party The Tragically Hip The Velvet Underground The Wailers The White Stripes The Winterhouse themes Thievery Corporation Third Contact Third World Tholen Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Life Music Time Warp Timecode Timestalker Tipper Tobias Tocadisco Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. Tone Depth Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra Too Pure Tool tools Topaz Tosca Toto Touch Tourette Records Toxik Synther Traffic Entertainment Group trance Trancelucent Tranquillo Records Trans'Pact Transcend Transformers Transient Records trap Trax Records Trend Trentemøller Tresor tribal Tricky Triloka Records trip-hop Trishula Records Tristan Troum Troy Pierce TRS Records Tsuba Records Tsubasa Records Tuff Gong Tunnel Records Turbo Recordings turntablism TUU TVT Records Twisted Records Type O Negative U-God U-Recken U2 U4IC DJs Überzone Ugasanie UK acid house UK Garage UK Hard House Ultimae Ultimae Records Ultra Records Umbra Underworld Union Jack United Dairies United DJs Of America Universal Motown Universal Music Universal Records Universal Republic Records Unknown Tone Records UOVI Upstream Records Urban Icon Records Utada Hikaru V2 Vagrant Records Valiska Valley Of The Sun Vangelis Vap Vector Lovers Venetian Snares Venonza Records Vermont Vernon Versatile Records Verus Records Verve Records VGM Vice Records Victor Calderone Victor Entertainment Vince DiCola Vinyl Cafe Productions Virgin Virtual Vault Virus Recordings Visionquest Visions Vitalic vocal trance Vortex Wagram Music Waki Wanderwelle Warner Bros. Records Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Wave Recordings Wave Records Waveform Records Wax Trax Records Way Out West WEA Wednesday Campanella Weekend Players Weekly Mini-Review Werk Discs Werkstatt Recordings WestBam White Swan Records Wichita Will Saul William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wrong Records Wu-Tang Clan Wurrm Wyatt Keusch Xerxes The Dark XL Recordings XTT Recordings Yamaoko Yello Yes Ylid Youth Youtube YoYo Records Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoharum Zomby Zoo Entertainment ZTT Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq