Nick Warren – Balance 018 (review)

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April 27, 2011 by DJ Elroy

It’s been a while since I’ve been as excited about a mix as I was about Nick Warren’s Balance 018. Exploring each new Balance mix has become something of a musical pilgrimage for me.  The first spin is almost religious. What was is that Timothy Leary said? “Turn on, tune in, drop out?” It’s ritualistic. And for things like this I put on the headphones. Remember those days? Putting on the cans, kicking back, eyes closed, and getting lost in the music… How much new stuff today can you do that with?

And who better to lead the sermon than progressive house pioneer Nick Warren? Take a quick look at his past projects with Global Underground and Renaissance, countless originals and remixes, his work with Jodi Wisternoff in Way Out West, and his successful Hope Recordings music label. What does this mean?  Credibility. The man’s been there and back and is alive to tell the tale. He must be doing something right!

Like any good evangelist, he knows how to get his point across, convincingly and with flair. Says Warren: “I did this to showcase the tracks, the music itself, rather than to shine the spotlight on me.” Remember when the message is in the music? That approach is seemingly hard to find these days in the era of inflated egos and beat-driven dance tracks.

Disc 1 opens up with some deep choons and a sexy, sensual vibe. The golden age of progressive house may be gone, but it’s evolved into something new; a fresh face for the age of digital dance music. The early mix is a bit of a tease; subtle foreplay of the senses. But by the time Fiord’sThe Tribe Has Spoken” rolls in, the clothes are coming off and you know there’s no turning back.  The vibe is all about the melody, and the flow builds a picture of musical beauty. Favorites are: Jamie Anderson and Owain K on “Without Sound” – the melancholy siren, the subtle voice… is it an angel or the fantastical results of those mushrooms? And what about “Drones” from Nomad in the Dark? Boxy basslines, glitchy undertones, twisted tech, and I love the breakdown. “Sing with Me!” It’s followed up by Franck Orff’sHibiscus”, a classic progressive-house riff with a smooth bassline sneaking up from underneath, and an automated discourse… The set finishes up with more dark and melodic layers with a teasing anti-climax and hints of what’s to come…

Disc 2 rubs in a bit more attitude. The melody is still there, but it’s taken in a darker, more tech-driven direction. It’s introduced with Warren’s own mix of “Tripswitch” (Collider), a nod to retro house, a simple 4/4 kick, a slow build and interesting layers with horns and a groovin’ bassline.  Set highlights include Yamil ColucciBristol Warm” — this catches a great groove with a rolling bassline, hypnotic percussion, melodic synths and pianos. The huge build breaks the disc open and is a smile thru the clouds of darkness. The mix peaks with  “Aragorn” (Solee) and wraps itself up nicely with a one-two knockout of Nick Warren on “Flowers” (Solee Remix) and Pablo Acenso’sBread”. Bravo!

It’s hard to capture the sounds I grew up on; the days of the old Renaissance mixes appear to be gone. Progressive house has a new sound; it means something different today. And while this mix doesn’t duplicate the sound of days gone by, it brings that experience from my old heroes into the modern age of electronic dance music.

CD1

01. Ormatie – Only
02. Spieltape feat. Shamil – Morning Paper
03. Underset – Berlin
04. Fiord – The Tribe Has Spoken
05. Paul Hazendonk – My Addiction
06. Eelke Kleijn – Monkey Movin’
07. Jamie Anderson And Owain K – Without Sound
08. Nick Warren – Buenos Aires (Terry Lee Brown Jnr Mix)
09. Nomad in the Dark – Drones (Send me)
10. Franck Orff – Hibiscus
11. Giorgos Gatzigristos – Tickless

CD2

01. Tripswitch – Collider (Nick Warren Mix)
02. Julio Largente – Darkened Underpass
03. Beat Factory featuring Stamina – Let’s Take a Walk
04. Lank – Ain’t No Problem
05. Yamil Colucci – Bristol Warm
06. Victoria R – Cosmos
07. Solee – Aragorn
08. Steve Mill – Someday
09. Steven Libby – 80D Test
10. Nick Warren – Flowers (Solee Remix)
11. Pablo Acenso – Bread

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