A big HIGH Five to...
Jimmy Van M-Balance 10.1 (EQ) (Australia)
Jimmy Van M is back with a honed down fourteen track companion to last year's outstanding Balance 010. Van M returns with more of the sleek, emotionally charged techno that has become his trademark and wowed both critics and fans alike on his last installment for Balance. Focused mainly on new breakthroughs in the minimal scene, Balance 10.1 brings a Santa-sized sackful of stellar tracks from top name remixers like Martin Buttrich, Radioslave, Guy Gerber, Smith & Selway, and many more. An unbelievably dense and dark emotional cloak envelops the mix that titillates with hints of sex and danger-a rare quality in a mix CD. What could have easily been a quick grab at some easy cash has Jimmy Van M making some powerful noise that he may very well be the best DJ in the entire world.
Layo & Bushwacka!-GU33 Rio 2xCD (Global Underground) (UK)
If the Balance series is the Aussie's response to the UK superstar DJ phenomenon then Global Underground is the godfather to all responses from Cornwall to Jakarta about today's newest rock star-the DJ. Actually, these days GU's rep is a bit creaky having been supplanted by many younger, hungrier upstarts (including the Balance series amongst others) who have their fingers closer to the pulse beat than, say, a Paul Oakenfold. UK duo Layo & Bushwacka make a reapperance of sorts, always with a taste for old school house the two finally get an entire disk to showcase that love on their latest mix disk. Taking it back to the Summer Of Love the two get their aciiiiiieeeed smiles on and get down to business with a record bag of magic oldies. Anybody who appreciates vintage Trax cuts as well as tough east coast stuff on long lost imprints like Sub-Urban and Emotive must seek this disk out immediately. Disk two captures L & B laying it down in a very new school manner not unlike a Christian Smith or John Selway. Tough new techno with plenty of ticky-tacky drums to keep even the most jaded fool occupied. It's a nice contrast to the older sounds of disk one but lacks the soul and replaces it, predictably, with velocity.
Cobblestone Jazz-23 Seconds (!K7)(US)
Comprised of Mathew Jonson (he of the Wagon Repair imprint), Tyger Dhula, and Danuel Tate this Vancouver, BC trio apply improvisational jazz techniques to the rigid formulas of minimal techno to mixed results. While some of it is amazing ("Waiting Room and "Peace Offering") other tracks like "Lime In Da Coconut" come across like Villalobos cribbed Grateful Dead techno jam outs. As you can imagine, there is probably nothing worse... Dance floor singles like "Dump Truck" and "India In Me" kinda showed these guys could either way when it came to the noodlefesting and 23 Seconds is pretty up and down in that department, striking hard on key tracks while perpetually dry humping on others like a modern day Steely Dan.
Para One-Epiphanie (Naive)(France)
It's easy to lump Para One with the cheesy new resurgence of Parisian club music including TTC and a re-energized Daft Punk but that takes away some of the infectious charm of obnoxious cuts like "Dundun-Dun". Epiphanie is admittedly fun but ultimately as light as a box of Wheat Thins. Things get a bit Erol Alkan-ized in places and threaten to run off the rails in a nu rave induced accident which takes away from some of the charm. This is a solid release that doesn't reinvent the wheel and reveals no epiphanies despite the title but does offer a fun alternative to all of the "serious" minimal mixes flooding the market.
Commix-Call To Mind (Metalheadz) (UK)
Goldie's Metalheadz imprint releases its first artist album, hard to believe after all these years but this fact is true. Commix lay down futuristic urban drum and bass, which isn't hard to imagine in a duo that hails from Cambridge. While I appreciate the promos that come from England (thank you very much) I can't say that I can culturally connect with this particular style of radio-friendly drum and bass as much as say rap music or heavy metal, which serve those very same cultural needs here in the States. Maybe I am just getting older.... There is however stuff to like on Call To Mind, like Steve Spacek lending his soulful pipes to "How You Gonna Feel", I felt that one comes from the same place as mature grown-ups in the scene like 4 Hero. The title track also provides an excellent contrasts between the the US and UK scene-While America is just beginning to accept dubstep en masse replacing one rave influenced sound with another the UK has already begun its rejection of the sound and Commix state very clearly half time d&b belongs to the trip-hop chin stokers (the radio airplay will soon follow I am sure) and not the e-tarded clubbers. We'll see how all of that plays out. Ironically, the best cut on this disk is a remix by Detroit's legendary Underground Resistance, a loping club basher that could only be described as vintage Jeff Mills approved Detroit techno. Even on a disk full of breakbeats it's the Motor City bad boys who leave the most indelible mark.