- 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.
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
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