Switched On – Balance presents Vivrant mixed by Jeremy Olander

Various Artists: Balance presents Vivrant mixed by Jeremy Olander (Balance)

What’s the story?

‘Melancholic’ and ‘cinematic’ are two of the words closely associated with Jeremy Olander’s music. They are often applied to the Swedish producer’s own work and his DJ sets, which often contain a lot of his own music. Time, then, for him to release one of those commercially – which he does here on the Balance label. Olander confesses to feeling a little intimidated by the prospect, with last year’s epic contribution from James Zabiela casting quite a shadow, but he nonetheless steps up with music from his own studio and those of his Vivrant label artists.

What’s the music like?

Yes. Olander goes for an expansive style in his mixing, and often stays rooted to the same pitch for ten minutes or more. This is a really effective tactic, creating wide open spaces and a pleasant feeling of hypnosis for the listener, who after a while will discover their feet are tapping automatically. The introduction of the first mix bears this out, with three tracks from J.Singh that stay rooted to one pitch before long bass notes move the music on. Marino Canal & Miguel Payda’s Hidden Eyes are excellent, with a moody vocal and soaring line.

The mix is like a single, arching structure, as is the second which has an utterly sublime beginning from Olander’s own track Akzo. This is a lovely, starry piece of music and it cuts to more spacey, beat driven material in Yoyo. Again the continuity here is more important than single standout single tracks, and Olander judges the build of intensity in the mix just right, finishing with his own Life After Death.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Olander’s mixes are in for the long haul and work best when heard in full, creating spaced out and hypnotic atmospheres. They may not always be full of hooks but the late night spell is cast to perfection.

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You can buy this release on the Balance website

Switched On – Balance presents Soundgarden mixed by Nick Warren

Various Artists: Balance presents Soundgarden mixed by Nick Warren (Balance)

What’s the story?

The Soundgarden is an enterprise headed by DJ Nick Warren and his partner Petra, and in what seems like no time at all it has evolved from parties and radio shows to compilations and now a record label. This compilation marks a return to the Balance series for Warren, who as half of revered 90s duo Way Out West has an almost unrivalled pedigree in house music.

His wish was to create a timeless pair of mixes in which each track has involvement from a member of the Soundgarden family, illustrating the community ethics of the label.

What’s the music like?

Warren’s wishes are largely fulfilled, using his components to make a pair of mixes that could easily be listed as two recordings rather than their 27 tracks.

He creates wide open spaces and is careful not to fill them with too much music, so that sometimes the music can sound quite minimal. It always has a forward progression though, and in the course of two and a half hours opens out beautifully.

Warren opens up with a typically airy number, in this case Aārp‘s Gemma III, and lets the mix establish its own footing with a couple of airy house tracks. Arguably the best of these is Aspen, by Synkro & Arovane, which has a natural feel to it. As time passes a firmer footing and bolder sound are established. Warren’s mixing is typically seamless – it’s difficult to spot the joins at points – with other highlights including Kamilo Sanclamente‘s Urania, dispensing stardust far and wide. Darper‘s Crystal Voyager has broad harmonies and curious bleeps, musing on time and space, then Emi Galvan‘s Embrace flat major has a nice shimmery breakdown before panning out for Ben Archbold‘s SF.

The second mix is dreamy, a little darker but again thoughtfully compiled, starting with the Eastern leanings of SIX‘s Berlin. There are dark hues from Black 8‘s Black Tiger, while Dmitry Molosh’s Note brings a combination of distinctive sharper sounds and an ethereal vocal.

Later on Warren’s own Dreamcatcher, with Black 8, is subtly hypnotic, while Eli Nissan‘s Restricted Delusions is tougher. By the time Oliver & Tom‘s Luly comes around the pace has increased slightly but the mood is contented.

Is it recommended?

Yes. He may be an old hand at this compilation business, but Nick Warren still knows how to pace and mould a mix to perfection.

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You can get this album from the Balance music website

Switched On – Balance presents Sunstrip mixed by Hernán Cattáneo

Various Artists: Balance presents Sunstrip mixed by Hernán Cattáneo (Balance)

What’s the story?

Argentine DJ Hernán Cattáneo links up with the Australian label Balance once again, returning to the double-set format for the first time in two years. His two mixes clock in at over two and half hours, focusing mostly on the deeper side of house music but with plenty of room for development.

What’s the music like?

In a word, consistent. The first three minutes of Cattáneo’s first mix set out a dreamy picture before the appearance of a reassuringly strong kick drum to get things going. Mariana Mellino & Interaxxis’ ‘Andromeda’ offers a sign of the steady tightening of intensity the Argentinian does so well, and we move smoothly through nice squiggles from Juan Hansen’s ‘Hiding Sun’, which hits a peak with some Depeche Mode-like vocals.

The mix presses on with the warm and fuzzy combination of the Kevin Di Serna tracks ‘4 Meditation’, which has a lovely sweep through space in its breakdown, and ‘System Era’ works well. Fellow countrymen Soundexile offer two tracks together, ‘Glide’ seguing effortlessly into the classy ‘Stimulation’, a lovely easy groove, before Cattáneo finishes part one with a curveball, Mercurio’s cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ sung by Anita Alvarez de Toledo.

The second mix is immediately more urgent, and gets off to a great start with Mike Griego feat. Paula Os and ‘Headspace’. The tempo is quicker and the percussion up a gear, as though the sun has set and we are heading into the night. The powerful sweep of ‘Dissolved In You’ by Brian Cid carries all before it, the producer reappearing later with the brooding ‘Rebirth’. Cid Inc – no relation – impresses with the shimmering textures of ‘Forgotten’, while there is an unexpected but welcome cover of The Cure’s ‘A Forest’ from COLLE. Finally Soundexile return with Wind Down (Outro Mix), the lights going up as the mix fades into the distance.

Does it all work?

Effortlessly so, thanks to Cattáneo’s experienced head. The pacing of each mix is spot on, the peaks and breakdowns expertly managed, while the beats and harmonic structure are spot on. The cover of ‘White Rabbit’ might split opinion but this is an extremely solid selection.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Cattáneo has built up great judgement on how to pace a commercial mix, and his instincts are sound here. Consistency is the key throughout!

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You can get this album from Beatport here