Ellen Allien - Watergate 05

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  • The trouble with taking risks is that sometimes they don't pay off. Take the mix CD format: The stigma attached to software-assisted mixes has gradually receded over the last ten years, but—putting aside the DE:9-style molecular mixing approach—manual craft is still justly held in greater esteem, thus making failure its direct inversion. Having previously released five commercially available mixes, BPitch boss Ellen Allien is well versed in committing herself to disc. As her "vinyl mix made after a party at my flat in Berlin" for fabric, and live set recorded at Watergate for RA's podcast series suggests, Allien's not averse to the thrills and spills that can happen when you simply press record. Unfortunately on Watergate 05, it appears that particular dice has been rolled one too many times. While you'd hardly place Allien among the smooth school of selectors, a few coarse contours is never a bad thing; but the issue with Watergate 05 is that she essentially ties one hand behind her back by consistently pairing incompatible tracks. As early as the first transition—the neo trance patter of DJ Yellow's "Lost" into John Tejada's somewhat dated sounding "The End of It All"—the flow is impeded by an unsavoury key-clash. The sense of malaise is further fuelled as next cut, Lump's "Music Lover," rather crudely kills any suggestion of an initial vibe with its vociferous LFO wobble. Being lined-up on completely the wrong bar during its ascent does little to help its cause. Neither does following it up with Luciano's "Celestial"—undoubtedly the most irksome offering on his Tribute To The Sun LP. The unstable sense of foreboding that underpinned much of her fabric 34 release goes some way to patching up the ship: firstly through Audiophungz's menacing synth workout "Pretending" and latterly via the fittingly titled "The Dark" by Dark Unknown, bleeding into the ceaseless scatter of Juno 6's body popping "Action 2." In the grander scheme of things, however, these are merely islands of respite amid a sea of mediocrity. Perhaps the most disquieting issue with Watergate 05 is that many of the qualities sullying the overall palette seem completely avoidable. Sure, traversing darkened minimal and grandiose electronic in a single stroke (Alexi Delano's "Molar One" into the Apparat remix of Röyksopp's "This Must Be") is a commendable attempt, but what could have been a stealthy, yet ultimately tidy mix, ends up in total horse-dancing-on-a-caravan chaos when the latter's rhythm section switches gears. A neat slalom that skids past Allien's own retouch of Uffie, a Hearthrob remix of Agf/Delay and nsi.'s version of Margaret Dygas' "Hidden from View" equates to a decent home stretch although it feels a little more disheartening than enjoyable as you reflect on what could have potentially transpired. The Watergate mix series has, by and large, made a solid start to its campaign backed by strong entries from Onur Özer, Sascha Funke and Sebo K, which makes 05 a case of "one step sideways" as opposed to three back. The same goes for Allien herself. 15 year careers and highly successful imprints should rightly be forged on the basis of continual stylistic gambles, to the good, or otherwise. After all, the very nature of chance dictates that you can't win 'em all.
  • Tracklist
      01. DK Yellow - Lost 02. John Tejada - The End Of It All 03. Lump – Music Lover 04. Luciano - Celestial 05. Niconé & Sascha Breamer - Nur Ma Kurz (Phillip Bader remix) 06. Audiophungz - Pretending 07. Aerea Negrot - All I Wanna Do 08. Dark Unknown - The Dark (Black mix) 09. Juno 6 - Action 2 10. Matias Aguayo - Bo Jack (Vocal mix) 11. Alexi Delano - Molar One 12. Röyksopp – This Must Be It (Apparat remix) 13. Uffie - Pop The Glock (Ellen Allien remix) 14. Agf/Delay - Connection (Hearthrob remix) 15. Margaret Dygas - Hidden Form View (Hidden Nsi. mix) 16. Brigitte Fontain&Khan - Fine Mouche (Original Tango Piano version)