Various - Aus 100

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  • Founded in 2006 as a more leftfield sister label of Simple Records, Will Saul's Aus Music has followed a more or less understated path. Its discography of house, techno and bass music brims with hazy melodicism, rhythmic playfulness and the occasional nod to peak-time dynamism. A decade in and Aus celebrates its 100th release with Aus 100, featuring two CDs of new material from label mainstays and a third disc with a continuous mix of those same tracks from the label boss. The focus on fresh tunes here generally pays off. The fluid, velvety end of the Aus spectrum is represented by tracks like Komon's billowing "Euclidean" and Nick Höppner's "Pneuma," whose serenity is colored by the slightest underlying drama. There are tougher tracks as well: "Drama Queen" sees October drop the sound of Black Body Radiation for something closer to '87 Chicago jack than '83 Belgian EBM, while the teetering synth of Deetron's "Cycle" verges on a manic energy. Aus's love for melody is also represented, of course. FOLD's "All City" layers dreamy chords over whip-snap snares and slinky congas; the melodic counterpoints of Appleblim's "Twinkle" weave over a skittering breakbeat; Midland's "Decompression Suite" propels swelling synths with its syncopated kicks. But sometimes that melodicism can overwhelm. Timothy Blake's "Soul Without Shame" begins promisingly, with its sunny vibes, but a meandering synth lead that reeks of '70s jazz-pop distracts from the beauty. The well-worn disco samples in Marquis Hawkes' "No Rush" are certainly fun, but in the context of this compilation they sound hackneyed. There are also a few tracks that simply fall flat, like Cottam's "Brand New Dub." All thudding bass and kicks, it just barely keeps itself from collapsing under the weight. Fortunately, a cut like "Brand New Dub" comes off better in Saul's mixed disc, where its utility as a DJ tool can shine. But overall the mix is less than the sum of its parts. With the many various sounds and styles to include, the set feels a little disjointed. When the early morning rave aura of Shenoda's "Minute" brushes up against October's tense "Drama Queen," or when the synth shards and processed vocal of Sei A's "Wan Hunner" slide into the glimmer of Bicep & Hammer's "ARACARI," the effect is magical. So the problem is that, in fitting this collection's disparate pieces into 77 minutes, the mix can rarely find its groove for more than a few tracks. The spaciousness of "Decompression Suite" is compromised by the relentless drive of Huxley's "Bisto Inferno," no matter how skillfully Saul mixes it. And the grace of "ARACARI" is dented by the B-boy edges of "Yek Do" by Sideshow. Two of the mix's best moments, Bwana's "VVedding" and Lee Jones's "Nocturne," bookend the set. They're both emotionally resonant, richly orchestrated tunes, but even as the mix's beginning and end, they feel shoehorned in. Saul's selections are good on their own, and there are a number of highlights in Aus 100's 24-song tracklist—stick to the unmixed portions and there's plenty to enjoy.
  • Tracklist
      CD1 01. Bwana - VVedding 02. Komon - Euclidean 03. Cottam - Brand New Dub 04. FOLD - All City 05. Marquis Hawkes - No Rush 06. Timothy Blake - Soul Without Shame 07. Shenoda - Minute 08. DJ October - Drama Queen 09. Pearson Sound - Standoff 10. Nick Höppner - Pneuma 11. Appleblim - Twinkle 12. Midland - Decompression Suite CD2 01. Huxley - Bisto Inferno 02. Sei A - Wan Hunner 03. Bicep & Hammer - ARACARI 04. Sideshow - Yek Do 05. Youandewan - Sicko 06. Breach & DJ Dust - Win Ugly 07. DJ T. - Under The Radar 08. Deetron - Cycle 09. Will Saul & October - Dimension One 10. Trevino - Shimmer 11. Komon & Will Saul - Circadian 12. Lee Jones - Nocturne