- There was a time when a mix from your favourite DJ was like an oasis in a dry desert, but for those who are willing to go online and download, what once was a rare thirst quencher is now a waterfall. In this instance, John Digweed puts out a radio show every week now (which the ‘Transitions’ series is named after), giving Digweed addicts a regular fix they could have only dreamt of in the days of yore. Yet this raises a conundrum: how do you create a must-own mix when your fans are overdosing on your material? (Confession time – let’s throw objectivity out the window – this Digweed fan has downloaded 32 gigs of his shows and counting.) However, as the old saying goes, it’s all about quality not quantity, and the extra tender lovin’ care that’s gone into Digweed’s new CD series is noticeably present.
Much like what he’s done to his hair, Digweed has tried to spruce his sound up on volume two, perhaps with a tad more success. The first volume was released just nine months ago, but gone for the most part are the electrohouse squeaks and buzzes that divided fans in 2006; in their place Digweed has run with a palette of slick, trancey synths and shimmering melodies, if anything recalling some of his earliest DJ sets.
Opening track 'Mind Games' from ex-Planet Funk engineer Abyss is a little reminiscent of 'Rej', but combined with its B-side 'The Dreamer', the pair make for a dreamy, melodic start typical of the Digweed of old and a good signpost of things to come. Guy Gerber's rejig of 'Dana' by newcomer Chaim is equally floaty: blissed out house that drifts skywards up into the clouds. Ten minutes later, however, the mix takes a dark turn as the sinister undertones and moody bassline of Williams' ‘The Shivering’ take you to 4 a.m. in a flash. This is classic Digweed that the faithful won’t be able to resist.
The early melodies set this mix apart from its predecessor, but it’s not a total shift in direction. David K, who delivered the stabbing synths of ‘Beautiful Dead’ on the first volume, returns with the bouncy xylophone riffs on ‘Boul de Nerf’ – likeable and laidback electrohouse in the Get Physical mold. Three tracks later Gerber's 'Digital Memories' is another slice of lush, melodic proggy techno that melds the Frankfurt sound with the progressive template – it’s no fluke that Gerber is signed to both Digweed's Bedrock label and the Cocoon roster. Elsewhere Robert Babicz brings standout groove and warmth to proceedings on two remixes in the vein of his Out of Orbit twelve 'My Blue Car', but it’s at the end that the mix is most riveting: Jackmate's 'Manray’ is a flurry of pads and techno synths that’ll transport the listener back to their opening state of bliss.
Two volumes in and the ‘Transitions’ series is shaping up to be a bellwether of progressive fortunes. Where the first volume latched onto prog’s 2006 fascination with guns a-blazing electrohouse, T2 is a more subtle affair with melodic productions that draw on a less-is-more but still somehow progressive aesthetic. Each track fits perfectly with the next to create the genre's cliched but trademark “journey”, and that, combined with the fresh vinyl Digweed is buying, adds up to a mix that finds a way to fit progressive’s past nicely into dance music’s present.
1 Abyss - Mind Games (Digweed Cheeky Edit)
2 Abyss - The Dreamer
3 Chaim - Dana EP (Guy Gerber Mix)
4 Antena - Camino Del Sol (Joakim Remix)
5 Williams - The Shivering (Pitch & Hold In Camera Obscura Remix)
6 Evil Hinko - Gedankenhochsprung (Babicz Remix)
7 G-Stylz - Belong To Me (Dub) (Digweed Cheeky Edit)
8 David K - Boul de Nerf
9 Felix Houzer - Mandolina (Robert Babicz Rework) (Digweed Cheeky Edit)
10 Dirk Technic - I Love You (Smallboy Remix)
11 Guy Gerber - Digital Memories
12 G-Stylz - Can't Get Enough
13 Dose3 - Minds (Tobi Neumann Mix)
14 Jackmate - Manray (Digweed Cheeky Edit)