Album Reviews

Various Artists – Transitions Mixed By John Digweed

(Renaissance) UK release date: 5 June 2006

Renaissance owe their success in house musiccompilations to three DJs in particular – DaveSeaman, Sasha and John Digweed. Digweed andSasha it was who teamed up for the groundbreakingfirst compilation in 1995, Digweed going it alone withan equally impressive three disc follow-up the yearafter.

Transitions is the name of Digweed’s radio show -and promises to be a series for Renaissance in thesame mould, with one mix for Digweed and a second partfrom a guest at the DJ’s invitation.

This release represents Digweed’s first homecomingsince then, following many a mix for the Ministry ofSound, Global Underground and his own Bedrock label.In that period his style has economised somewhat, anddarkened considerably, but the qualities that madethose early mixes so absorbing are retained. Digweed’smixes have always had a sense of timelessness – evenmore so than Dave Seaman – so that after a few tracksthe boundaries have been lost, the whole just onetrack pushing forward.

It happens again here, the tempo established withblah, and then the slow build begins. The subtleminimalism of Popnoname’s On The Run is a highlight,Digweed now into his stride. The beats are then pareddown, electro bass lines providing the forwardmomentum over straight, four to the floor house beats,but there’s always a sense of progression andunresolved tension. David K’s Beautiful Dead is evenmore basic in its melodic material, straightforwardbass stabs and weird atmospherics that would sound oddout of context, but work well here.

Almost imperceptibly the tempo starts to rise withDringer, and the bass sound begins to fill out, takingon funky overtones. This is expanded further withRocco’s spatial awareness, a hint of the Digweed styleof old in the darkly cinematic strings. Trick &Kubic’s Easy then taps into Bedrock-style chunky funk,with Digweed gearing things towards a pair of heavy,house/breaks hybrids to finish. This is where the hourthat’s gone before is either defined or renderedredundant, and in this instance Digweed secures atriumphant finish.

Dana Bergquist sets things up, Jetchi a tranceytrack with a warm, mellow sound over a simple beat.Then the concrete-heavy breaks of Paul Kalkbrennertake over, sporting a powerful bass loop, and we’rethere, with not an ounce of flab in sight.

Not his most commercial mix by any means, asDigweed is far more underground in his trackselections these days. However it made me want toexperience a live set from the DJ again, an indicationof the spell he can still cast on a house musicdancefloor, and showing why he continues to hold ahigh place in the DJ hall of fame.

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