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]