- Ben Watt, it seems, has discovered a keen little formula for success. The big secret can be heard time and time again on the first disc of his label's newest compilation, Buzzin' Fly - 5 Golden Years in the Wilderness. You ready? Ahem…Good old fashioned American house music is great. Now, there's a feeling that this might be a reactionary stance by the label in an age known more the synthetic than the soulful. However, Buzzin' Fly doesn't ignore modern tastes entirely. There's actually plenty of Joris Voorn-approved deep techno to go around on all three discs. The difference, though, is that artists on Buzzin' Fly never forget all the warmth and funk that comprise the engine room of great dance music.
A celebration of house music doesn't sound all that special, but this is where Buzzin' Fly shines. Watt has gathered together a diverse roster of artists that do a half-decent job of squeezing some new life out of the mundane. On disc one, they do it by adding European-influenced techno to the boompty house beat. It's perhaps best heard on Radio Slave's remix of Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia's "Dead Souls," which is sweeter than chocolate getting in your peanut butter.
5 Golden Years is an affirmation that there is another type of house music, aside from all of those predictable summer comps of tired dreariness. Some of that, of course, is down to Watt's solid ear, which reaches far and wide. That said, though, when Watt dips his toe into the world of pop music, he seems to have lost something. No longer on the cutting edge of the pop world as he was when he provided the beats for Everything But The Girl, the poppier third disc is cuddly, rather than kinetic. How these signings will play out over time remains to be seen, but experience says that reliance on these types of formulas will only hasten the decline into irrelevance.
As a counterpoint to all of this, the second disc is the one that truly bears the closest inspection. Here is a quieter, more intimate affair where Ben Watt stretches out selecting tracks from his label that focus on a broader spectrum of headphone techno and home listening jams. OK, some of this stuff drags like a mofo. But some of it, like John Tejada in Basic Channel mode on his re-working of Jimpster's "Square Up" and especially "Mon Ange" from Mlle. Caro & Franck Garcia, are simply evidence that most of this material is basically a fresh new take on downtempo music. The downtempo scene has been stagnating for years with yuppie angst caused by a wine bar induced lounge hangover. Buzzin' Fly tosses out those tired neo bossa beats and sends listeners some far out deep space techno love.
5 Golden Years in the Wilderness, as you might expect, sees the label playing to their strengths. They are not selling anything new on disc one, just repackaging dance music history for kids starved for something "real," but succeeding wildly on a reputation of quality productions and memorable tracks. The second disc is a stylish gem of new school downtempo that eschews old formulas in favor of something a little more techno with results that both titillate and deliver the goods. The third disc, however, disappointingly apes the structure of disc one but leaves the excitement at home. As Meatloaf might say, though, two out of three ain't bad at all.
CD1 – Up
01. Darkmountaingroup - Lose Control.
02. Ben Watt Feat Estelle - Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass (Radio Edit)
03. Rodamaal Feat Nicinha - Musica Feliz (Alex S Classic Club Mix)
04. Justin Martin - The Sad Piano (Charles Webster Remix)
05. Ben Watt - Lone Cat
06. Justin Martin – Nightowl
07. Rodamaal Feat Claudia Franco - Insomnia (Ame Remix)
08. Manoo and Francois A – Traffic
09. Mlle Caro and Franck Garcia - Dead Souls (Radio Slave Remix)
10. Ben Watt Feat Sananda Maitreya - A Stronger Man
CD2 – Down
01. Kayot - One Week On Cuba
02. Unity - I Love You
03. Two Armadillos – Nostalgia
04. Rocco - Thursday Night Friday Morning
05. Lephtee - So Far Back (The Nova Dream Sequence Remix)
06. Mlle Caro and Franck Garcia - Mon Ange
07. Jimpster - Square Up (John Tejada Remix)
08. Automagic - Do You Feel?
09. Barbq - Barbi In Love
10. Manoo and Francois A - A Day in December
CD3 – Forward
01. Stimming - Kleine Nachtmusik
02. Barbq - Music From The Great Plains
03. Rodamaal Feat Claudia Franco - Insomnia (Kemistry Remix)
04. Spencer Parker – Chiho
05. Gavin Herlihy - Give Me A Funf
06. Lovebirds - The Beat Goes Boom
07. Here Today - Good News