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Friday, 21 March 2014

Underground Sound of Miami 3, review

Series 3, of the Underground Sound of Miami is a great mix of Deep House and Progressive, but it loses some of its goodness further into the mix.

That is not saying this is a bad mix, or an unworthy addition to the series. Far from it, but it doesn't grab us, here at Spadang HQ and its not of the same quality, as Series 2 which we really loved and still enjoy now.

Things start off well, with a brooding track from Robert Babicz: Rabbit Clouds, and things continue to build really well from there, right up until Thodoris Triantafillou & CJ Jeff - Body Clock where things take a different turn...

Body Clock is by far the best tune of the mix: a proper driving progressive, high tempo track. It's really good.

It's just a pity that the tempo isn't maintained, with the tunes that follow. All of them are good but Body Clock's urgency makes you think (or hope?) that the music that comes after will follow it's lead, making for a more full on journey. But the following tunes are of a cooler nature. So even though they are quality, they are unexpected and that left us a little disappointed at the end.

Spadangmusic isn't saying this is a bad mix and that you should avoid it. Just don't expect a peak time set.

There are two discs, a mixed and an unmixed disc, which contains DJ friendly versions of the mixed disc. 

Mixed CD

Robert Babicz - Rabbit Clouds
Derek Howell - Objectivity
Dave Angel - Keep It
Thodoris Triantafillou & CJ Jeff - Body Clock Feat. Thomas Gandey
Darren Emerson - Feel It
Carlo Lio - Who's House?
Coyu & Ramiro Lopez - Diferencias
Harvey McKay - Phone Freaker
Marc Marzenit - Mystery Ocean
King Unique - Westway

Unmixed CD

Derek Howell - Objectivity
Carlo Lio - Who's House?
Robert Babicz - Rabbit Clouds
Dave Angel - Keep It
Thodoris Triantafillou & CJ Jeff - Body Clock Feat. Thomas Gandey
Marc Marzenit - Mystery Ocean
Harvey McKay - Phone Freaker
Darren Emerson - Feel It
Coyu & Ramiro Lopez - Diferencias
King Unique - Westway

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Guy J - Ambassador (Guy J mix)

Guy J - Ambassador
Wow this is a great remix of an already good tune.

As ever with a Guy J production, this is a quality tune with rich production values. This is the sort of tune you expect to hear when the DJ is stepping up the tempo to a more relentless type of journey. It's really really good.

Well worth the investment, from your favourite online store.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Dance Music Album of the Year

2013...

...was a great year for quality dance music, so choosing our best dance album of the year is as hard as ever. What to choose from the likes of  +John Digweed, Live In Argentina, Balance 024, Digweed & Muir's Versus, Balance Presents Guy J, Sasha's Never Say Never and Involver 3 and all the rest?

But we always go with a top three, so we are having to be really brutal this year. We really like Balance 24 and loved Stelios Vassiloudis's Underground Sound of Miami, but we can't change our own rules. Therefore, in reverse order, here are our top three dance music albums of 2013:
  1. Involver 3, mixed by Sasha
    Once again, Sasha creates a typically smooth mix, while remixing each tune especially for the album. All three Involvers are milestones.
     
  2. John Digweed, Live In Argentina
    We said that we thought this was the best of the Live In series, so far - and we meant it. From disc 1, things build to a banging crescendo on disc 4. Amazing stuff! Like our review says, 2013 really saw Digweed put together some great mixes.
     
  3. Never Say Never, mixed by Sasha
    But 2013's best mix is a free CD, stuck on the front of a music magazine! Never Say Never is a truly infectious mix with a superb track selection. You really feel like each tune is there because no other was good enough. And that mix between Henry Saiz's I Can Feel It Coming and Bonobo's Eyesdown: incredible. Sasha never disappoints!
At the top we said it’s been brutal choice to narrow 2013 down to three releases. To be honest, we could have mentioned all of the mixes we’ve reviewed again here (plus a few things we didn’t) - we think 2013 was a really strong year for our music. Spadang does feel a bit harsh excluding the likes of Versus (which was/is immense) and Balance Presents Guy J, to name two other highlights.

Without a doubt, the best tune to be remixed in 2013 was Guy J’s remix of the Bedrock monster: Heaven Scent. So good it could have won “best of 2013” on its own. One of the best remixes Spadang has ever heard. Ever.


2012

Choosing a dance album of 2012 has not been easy - it's Feb 2013 now! We've heard a lot of great music and confining the nominees for this prestigious award, to a self imposed three, has been really tricky (just like choosing 2011's winner). But the winner has been clear for a while, even though something has appeared lately that nearly stole the award!

So here are our top 3 albums from 2012.

In reverse order our top 3 dance albums of 2011 are as follows:

  1. Live In Cordoba - +John Digweed 
    Another strong release from Mr Digweed, with his usual mix of tech house and housey techno. Track 1, disc 2 is awesome, making disc 2 our fave.
    Read the full Live In Cordoba review again
  2. Balance 022 - Funk D'Void
    The something that "appeared". In our review of this mix, we stated how stupid we are to have missed this one completely. In our brief time listening to it, Balance 022 has grabbed us and will not let go. Its collection of funk infused tech house has us hooked. We will be listening to it for a very long time to come. So close to the best mix of 2012. And we aren't massice Balance fans...
    Read the full Balance 022 review again
  3. Live In London - John Digweed
    With 4 discs of Diggers, you have to give a lot of time to get into this mix. But it is really worth it. Each disc builds on the previous one to deliver a real journey. If you are regular +Spadang | Dance music reviews  reader's, you will now how much we rate a good journey. This mix goes from London to New York and back. It really is that good. At four discs, it has to be our favourite. Never have we been able to have that much quality music, in one official package.
    Read the full Live In London review again

2011

Choosing a dance album of the year is tricky, as Spadang only reviews the best music. 2011, has been no exception!

So below, we have chosen our top 3 albums, from those we have reviewed over 2011. If any album is omitted, it's not because we no longer like it, but more because we decided to stick to a top 3! Otherwise we'd be reviewing them all again (on second thought, perhaps we should as they are ALL good!).

So, in reverse order our top 3 dance albums of 2011 are as follows:

  1. Balance 018 - Nick Warren
    Undoubtedly a Balance mix, but still has Nick Warren's infleunce of good tuneful music, fused with a more "Balance-like" vibe running through it. Disc 2 is our fave.
    Read the full Balance 018 review again

  2. Dig Deeper Phase 1 - Danny Howells
    A bumper release of quality tunes, and the mixed version is a fantastic journey with a energetic breakbeat/drum n bass finale.
    Read the full Dig Deeper review again

  3. 1000 Words - Guy J
    This has to rank as one of the best artist albums ever. A superb selection of tracks, with some beautiful melodies and thoughtful grooves. Brilliant stuff, from start to finish.
    Read the full 1000 Words review again

Sunday, 15 December 2013

"John Digweed, Live In Argentina" review

John Digweed, Live In Argentina

+John Digweed's Live In Argentina is bloody amazing. 4 discs of proper Diggers as he weaves a full on, peak time spell of a mix. Deep dark progressive house, with just enough melody. This is a really really good mix and the best of the "Live In" series so far. High praise that's totally deserved!


Yes, Spadang is totally biased where any Digweed mix is concerned. And, yes we don't care if that's seen as being shallow or anything else. We can't help being biased in a year, where we have already had the excellent Versus, and Live In Slovenia! So to round off a great year we are being treated to the masterful Live In Argentina. Its better, even than we hoped it would be. 2013 has seen John Digweed at the top of his game.

So tell us then, why do you think Live In Argentina is that good?

We'll tell you why its that good, one disc at a time!

Disc 1 begins this mammoth journey with some cool and slightly down tempo tunes, before building gradually to set up disc 2. It's really well paced and the track selection is near perfect (as is track order). There are many great tunes on disc 1, but Jimpsters, Brought To Bare ft. Jonatan B├Ąckelie and SuSoul's, Cosmic Theater stand out as the ones where the pace of the mix begins to pickup,

Disc 2 takes up from where disc 1 finishes and takes things up a few notches to prepare you for discs 3 and 4. Disc 2 has some nice techy sounds mixed with some higher tempo offerings such as the excellent Come Save Me, by Jagwar Ma. We really like this tune. Its from here, that you can sense that the final two discs will be seriously special. Mr Digweed did say that discs 3 and 4 were the more "peak time" of the four (and he is right!). Other tunes we like on disc 2 are Traumer's, Sofa and also the double helping of Deetron's, Rhythm. We love it when two versions of a tune are paired together like this.

Disc 3 is where things quickly become peak time. You are grabbed by Dan Curtain's, Got Me Somethin and you aren't let go until the final tune, being Alex Niggemann's, Tangram (The Bright End). But in between them, all of the tunes are great. Spadang is struggling to pick one or two, for special mention. Listen and you will see what we mean.

Disc 4 continues, from where disc 3 left off. You are immediatley reunited with the relentless urgency of disc 3. Straight away, Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg's, You Know reminds you that this is the final disc and that its gonna be like this all the way through. As with disc 3, Spadang can't pick any favourite tunes, as they are all good and deserving of their place in this excellent mix.

And that is why Live In Argentina is so good! Perfectly paced throughout and building oh so well, with superb tune selections, Spadang is really pleased with the result.

Aren't you forgetting the accompanying DVD?

Thanks, I was just coming to that! In brief, cameras followed Digweed around, while he was playing in Argentina and a nice documentary is the result, detailing why John likes Argentine crowds so much (amongst other things), together with footage of the gigs he played. So its an ideal (and welcome) bonus, if you are a John Digweed fan.

Isn't saying this is the best Live In mix so far a bit unfair, when the others have all been so good?

Not really. Yes, they are all good and Live In London is truly great, where Live In Slovenia is awesome too. But Live In Argentina is a just perfect. Although Slovenia was trumpeted as a Digweed peak time set, Live In Argentina surpasses it. Like Slovenia, its tunes are also dark and heavy, but here they have enough melody not to be too percussive. That is what Spadang really likes about this mix.

So Live In Argentina is a real gem of a mix and at 4 discs (and a DVD), its an awesome package too. We will be enjoying it for a long time to come.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Balance 024, mixed by Danny Howells

Danny Howells once again has produced a mix compilation of the highest quality, in Balance 024, by focusing on what he is famous for: atmospheric, mesmerising dance music.


Disc 1, That Mix, is a cool collection of tunes which sets up the more uptempo disc 2 nicely. Both discs are full of quality tunes, so anyone who likes Danny's style, will be very happy with Balance 024. So that includes all of us at Spadang HQ!

So what's Balance 024, disc 1 like then?
It's a nice thoughtfully envisaged set of eclectic tunes, which are both easy to listen to, but also build across the disc with purpose. All of those present are good, but we particularly like Ivano Tetelepta's Smokin' G, The Mole's Our Time Has Come, Jimpster's Porchlight And Rocking Chairs, Sisterhood's Call Me Ishmael, Robot Needs Oil's Mood Swings and the legendary Ian Pooley's I Got You. All of these are quality and make disc 1, of Balance 024, a rewarding listen. A great way to set up disc 2...

Balance 024, disc 2 is good then?
Yes, it's our favourite of the two. As much as a well put together downtempo/ambient mix can be, we always look forward to the more urgent side of dance music.

Disc 2, This Mix, starts off where disc 1 left off, and builds on it with a (slightly) clubbier feel. As with disc 1, there are a lot of good tunes to enjoy, but we really liked the way the mix builds from Rompante's Save Me From This Kaos, through to Jagwar Ma's Four: Natasha Waters's vocals in Pages are hypnotic and Crimea X's Dream Is Gone is just amazing with its techy touches of brilliance!

Overall, our favourite tune has to be Kaltehand/Natasha Waters's Pages, mainly for those amazing vocals, but also for what this tune leads into. The end of disc 2 really is strong.

All in all, Balance 024 is really good?
Yes, it's another strong release from Balance Music and Spadang has to admit that the recent additions to the series are making us like it more and more. We weren't keen on the early ones. But when a compilation has Danny Howells's name on it, we know that this is a mix we will be enjoying for a long time to come.

Global Underground 027 - Miami and all of the Nocturnal Frequencies series are still regular listens for us. And Dig Deeper Phase 1 was a real treat, in 2011.

Balance 024 is another strong mix, from Danny Howells.

That mix

1) Essay – Find You (Desolate’s Get Together Mix) [Fauxpas Musik]
2) Four Tet – Lion (Jamie XX remix) [Text]
3) Lady Blacktronika – Song Of Love Overdue [Your Only Friend Recordings]
4) Ivano Tetelepta – Smokin’ G [Fear of Flying]
5) Michael Mayer – Mantasy (Will Saul & October Mix) [Kompakt]
6) The Mole – Our Time Has Come [Maybe Tomorrow]
7) The Mole – A Daily Affair [Maybe Tomorrow]
8) Joakim – Another Light [Tigersushi]
9) Jimpster – Porchlight And Rocking Chairs (KiNK Remix) [Freerange]
10) Sisterhood – Call Me Ishmael [Tief]
11) Robot Needs Oil – Mood Swings (Simon Garcia Remix) [Artreform]
12) Ian Pooley – I Got You (Matthias Vogt Remix) [Pooled Music]
13) Nicco – Its Over (Oxia Remix) [Recline Music]
14) A.W.O.L. – The Ramp [Suol]
15) Alland Byallo – A Red Dilemma (Brooks Mosher Spirit Box remix) [Release Sustain]
16) Axel Boman – Look What You’ve Done To Me [Hypercolour]

This mix

1) Maricopa – Neon Shoals [Back to the Balearics]
2) Campion – Ekul (Soul Renegades remix) [Audio Parallax Records]
3) Shur-I-Kan – One Ten [Lazy Days Records]
4) Sixth Avenue Express – Can’t Stop Feelin’ (Deep Sound Express Dub) [Pole Position Recordings]
5) Seva K – Falling (Original Mix) [Audio Tonic Records]
6) Durerstuben – Haeckls Kosmos [Pampa]
7) Chopstick & Johnjon ft. Signaljacker – Roots (Original Instrumental Mix) [Suol]
8) Le Loup – Brotherland (Daze Maxim’s remix) [Eklo]
9) Rompante – Save Me From This Kaos [Liebe Detail]
10) Kaltehand / Natasha Waters – Pages (Ewan Pearson Remix) [K/NW]
11) Crimea X – Yev (Prins Thomas Diskomiks remix) [Hell Yeah Recordings]
12) Crimea X – Dream is Gone (Prins Thomas Diskomiks remix) [Hell Yeah Recordings]
13) Jagwar Ma – Four [Future Classic]
14) Sandrien – Haters [Wolfskuil Records]

Thursday, 10 October 2013

John Digweed and Nick Muir Versus, review

+John Digweed and Nick Muir, Versus is three discs of great house and techno, from Bedrock favourites, such as Pig & Dan, Henry Saiz, Guy J, Christian Smith and more (what a line up!).

Disc 1 is mixed with the perfection that John Digweed always delivers. Unlike other Diggers mixes, this one is ever so slightly less percussive and laden with a touch more melody. Only a bit, but just enough. Starting with Henry Saiz's hypnotic Lupine (amazing tune) and followed by Jozif's Groove Del Verano (gorgeous keyboard melody in here), the mix builds and by the time Marco Bailey's Red Tape kicks in, the vibe is strong and clubby. We are really loving this mix.

Other tracks worth mentioning are Pig & Dan's Morphism and Psycatron's brilliant Awakenings. Then there is Guy J's take on the Bedrock classic Heaven Scent, the final tune of this great mix...

Guy J's remix of Heaven Scent deserves special mention, not just because it is the best tune on the whole album, but also because it is a superb remix of a much loved original. The famous Heaven Scent melody isn't obvious here, but don't worry, its been replaced by an urgency which turns Heaven Scent into a true "heads down, arms up" tune - even more than the original, if that's possible. You could even call it "peak time". It's a really strong tune to end the mix with. We love it. A lot!

Disc 2 of Versus provides unmixed versions of the tunes on disc 1, with the exception of Heaven Scent and Psycatron's Awakenings. So you now know that all of the tracks here are good, if you've bothered to read the opening paragraphs!

Versus, disc 3 is described as an "Electronica" disc. What you have here, is eight totally new tracks, produced by Digweed & Muir, in an ambient mood!

Eight tracks! That could be an artist album in its own right! Spadang does like the ambient side of music, so this disc is a nice treat. Our favourite track is Gigawave, closely followed by Larco. But the whole disc is a nice Sunday morning listen.

What about the packaging? Isn't that worth a mention?

Sure is. It's a step up from the norm: If you remember the quality packaging of earlier Renaissance releases, you will be pleased to find Versus comes in an embossed box, containing individual wallets for each disc. In addition, there are generous sleeve notes, about each contributing artist and their tune (if you ordered early, you even got a signed "thank you" card from John and Nick!). The quality artwork, found on a Renaissance offering isn't here, but Bedrock don't do that - that's what Renaissance do (brilliantly). But the quality packaging, is the same and needs to be mentioned.

So yes, John Digweed & Nick Muir, Versus is really really good and needs to be purchased. Especially in CD format.

Disc 1
1. Lupine – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Henry Saiz
2. Groove Del Verano – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Jozif
3. Forge – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Second-Hand Satellites
4. Morphism – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Pig&Dan
5. Prism – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Jamie Stevens
6. Red Tape – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Marco Bailey
7. Dawnbreaker – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Ian O’Donovan
8. Infinity Road – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Carlo Lio
9. Mantis – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Christian Smith & Wehbba
10. Awakenings – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Psycatron
11. Blue Tongue – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus The Japanese Popstars
12. Heaven Scent – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Guy J

Disc 2
1. Mantis – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Christian Smith & Wehbba
2. Morphism – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Pig&Dan
3. Blue Tongue – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus The Japanese Popstars
4. Infinity Road – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Carlo Lio
5. Red Tape – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Marco Bailey
6. Prism – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Jamie Stevens
7. Dawnbreaker – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Ian O’Donovan
8. Forge – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Second-Hand Satellites
9. Lupine – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Henry Saiz
10. Groove Del Verano – John Digweed & Nick Muir Versus Jozif

Disc 3
1. Gigawave – John Digweed & Nick Muir
2. Bubblenet – John Digweed & Nick Muir
3. Prism – John Digweed & Nick Muir
4. Timestone – John Digweed & Nick Muir
5. Larco – John Digweed & Nick Muir
6. Buried Heart – John Digweed & Nick Muir
7. Circle Square – John Digweed & Nick Muir
8. Hollow World – John Digweed & Nick Muir

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Balance Presents Guy J, review

Balance presents Guy J
Guy J's mix for the Balance mix album series is full of his staple sound of techy tunes, infused with beautiful and lush melodies. Balance Presents Guy J is a great mix album, but leaves you asking one question only. More on that at the end.

Never one to hit you straight between the eyes with his mixes, Guy J's Balance opens up with the lush (and long) intro of "DJ Yellow & Flowers And Sea Creatures – No One Gets Left Behind (Guy J Remix)". The mix into track 2's "Roger Martinez & Secret Cinema – Menthol Raga (Guy J Remix)" is thoughtful and mesmerizing. At this early stage, its clear that a quality listening experience is about to had.

As the mix proceeds, this becomes fact as one after the other, each tune builds on its predecessor. What we have here is a tech house/progressive type of journey. It's really nice.

So, what is the best tune on the album?

Well, they are all good but if Spadang is pushed to choose, Echomen – Perpetual (Guy J Remix): stunning.

A few other reviews of this album imply that this is quite a deep and dark mix. We have no problem at with that sort of sound, but neither applies to this Guy J mix (well we think that, anyway). No, the whole mix is about the sort of sound you'd expect to come from a great producer/DJ who is really at the top of his game here.

So tell us, what question needs answering? We can't bear the pressure of not knowing.

Simply put: Balance Presents Guy J? What is the Balance series doing only giving Guy J a "presents" entry in their impressive line up of mixes? Surely Guy J should have been given a slot in the main Balance series?

As you all know, Guy J has released two brilliant artist albums and is an awesome DJ. Oh and he now has a successful recording label, of his own too!

It's rumoured the brilliant Robert Babicz, is to get a stab at the main Balance series soon: If Robert Babicz is big enough, then so is Guy J.

But that minor quibble aside, Balance Presents Guy J is a great mix and well worth you attention. Quality all the way.

1. No One Gets Left Behind (Guy J Remix) - DJ Yellow
2. Menthol Raga (Guy J Remix) - Secret Cinema
3. Santa Fe (Guy J Remix) - Henry Saiz
4. Migrants (Radio Slave Accapella Guy J Edit/remix) - Juan Deminicis
5. Once Upon a Time (Guy J Remix) - Juan Deminicis
6. Phases of Grief (Guy J Remix) - Navar
7. Fever (Pezzner Mix/City Life Accapella Guy J Edit/remix) - DJ T.
8. Waitin' (Charles Webster Mix Guy J Edit/remix) - Lanoiraude
9. Day One (Guy J Remix) - Dactilar
10. Perpetual (Guy J Remix) - Echomen
11. I'm Your Country (Guy J Remix) - Guy Mantzur
12. Killa (Guy J Remix) - Way Out West
13. Duba (Guy J Remix) - Robert Babicz