James Zabiela - Utilities

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  • I have made it clear in previous reviews of compilations from James Zabiela that he is without doubt one of the freshest and most exciting talents in DJ’ing at the moment. From a few years back to now, James has forged a reputation through his talent and honesty with fantastic live performances as well as very solid albums. His current sound is encapsulated in this latest offering from Renaissance entitled Utilities, and it, for the first time, catches a glimpse of James pushing the new technology of Ableton. The first disc, with James using Ableton Live, delivers a very techy and quirky mix. 'Atlantic View' by Decompressed Subsonics is an early highlight, using some full and chunky bassline to good effect alongside a delicious uplifting breakdown midway in. The chunky driving basslines continue with ‘Your Soul For Access’ as well as the devastating Kriece mix of Aphex Twin. James chips in himself with ‘EyeAmComputer’ while the twisted eerie sounds of Soundex take this mix into a weird and wonderful place midway in. Lee Coombs chips in with his driving sounds in ‘Outta My Mind’ while Infusion’s mix of Will Saul is quite melodic in a weird electro way. ‘Theme from Silvertone’ is a delicious progressive feast of melodies and a bouncy bassline while ‘Snabeln’ by Hugg & Pepp is undeniably one of the finer highlights in this first disc. This second disc, done totally Live, begins smoothly with Hisham Samawi & Dennis Rodgers delivering a tasty vocal number in ‘Through You’. The mix flows smoothly early on with some driving techy numbers, showcased with tracks such as ‘Rykketid’ by Trentmoller as well as a groovy but gritty number by Walter Ercolino. ‘Captain Hook’ is a great track thanks to some edgy piano stabs as well as crisp and thumping drums. The mix really starts to get gritty with productions by Rob Mooney & Buick Project noticeably lifting the pace while the acid sounds of ‘Growth’ are sure to please those that appreciate the old school vibes. Solid broken beats enter the fray with the Elite Force Mix of ‘Gyromancer’ as well as the smooth progressive feel of ‘Simon Says’ by the US based Carbon Community. The album ends superbly with another great highlight as James edits Ellen Allien’s ‘Sehnsucht’. It is another fantastic album by James showing his diversity from his last album which was noticeably more peak time and tough. This mix in itself is quite diverse, with tougher techy moments meeting smooth progressive and quirky breaks, it quite literally has it all.