- 2010 was the year that saw the Munich-based Permanent Vacation label leave its cooler-than-thou underground status behind to become a defining player in the house-meets-(nü)disco crossbreed scene, a move that was propelled by key releases such as Jacques Renault's remix of "Beam Me Up" and the ubiquitous "Coma Cat." Permanent Vacation is also the banner under which the label's founders, Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly, work as DJs. Right to Play is their latest official mix CD, and its aims aren't just hedonistic: as the bio states, "The proceeds will go towards supporting children involved in armed conflicts. Support is provided to the non-governmental organization Play31 which organizes soccer matches for former child soldiers." This is all very right indeed. But if you own the imprint's two Selected Label Works compilations, and if social causes are your thing, then you might as well donate to Play31 directly.
Firstly, let's state that there is nothing wrong with the stuff selected here. PV start the compilation with the rather abstract Nouvelle Vague remix of Antena's "Frantz," one of the label's oldest releases, but it's with the acidic twist given by Brennan Green to "Don't Turn It Off," the sleazy house/pop song from 40 Thieves, that things effectively get geared towards body movements. The Tensnake Dub mix of The Embassy's "Lurking with a Distance" is oddly exotic, as if it were recorded in some sort of Peruvian shack, and it serves as another reminder of the remixer's versatility and relevance. Mirror People's "Echo Life" is even more intriguing, as it telescopes piano house, early Warp-like synthetic peregrinations, a scatted chant and 303 motifs: one could say it's the label's lost 2010 single, as it as been criminally overlooked and criminally underplayed (the way it cedes its place to Lullabies in the Dark's "Iridium" is just plain lazy, though, as elegant as the latter's main acoustic guitar riff still appears).
Things then get very special towards the end: Manuel Tur's remix of Azari & III's "Reckless" might not have the immediacy of the Tensnake version, but it's less gimmicky and definitely more sonically inventive. The same goes for Tevo Howard's "What Is Noize" and Bostro Pesopeo's "Basic," which both showcase more obtuse, uncharted territories for the label.
It's the very existence of this commercial product that poses a problem, though. In an age when you can find professionally recorded and engaging mixes for free on various websites (Fact, Little White Earbuds, yours truly), you must offer something truly unique if you want music buyers to pay for it. Incidentally, last October, the Permanent Vacation DJs released a free podcast for Juno Plus: it showed how cuts from their label (the mandatory "Reckless," Black Van's sumptuous "Moment of Excellence") blend faultlessly with their contemporaries and stand strong next to like-minded producers such as Nicolas Jaar, Soul Clap and Tuff City Kids or veterans such as Marco Passarani and Lindstrøm. Next to it, Right to Play seems pale and amorphous.
Fröhlich and Bioly have their heart in the right place: I mean, who can't admire DJs who are thinking about the children, right? But on the strict basis of the stuff on offer here, Right to Play seems too narcissistic for its own good: playing with oneself has rarely sounded this unnecessary.
01. Antena - Frantz (Nouvelle Vague Mix)
02. 40 Thieves feat. Qzen - Don't Turn It Off (Brennan Green Mix)
03. Lauer - Delta NRG (Mock & Toof Remix)
04. Walter Jones - I Am Loved
05. Midnight Magic - Beam Me Up (Jacques Renault Remix)
06. The Embassy - Lurking (With A Distance) (Tensnake Dub Mix)
07. Mirror People - Echo Life
08. Lullabies In The Dark - Iridium
09. Woolfy vs Projections - Neeve (Permanent Vacation Tropical Heat Remix)
10. John Talabot - Afrika
11. Azari & III - Reckless (With Your Love) (Manuel Tur Remix)
12. Tevo Howard - What Is Noise?
13. Bostro Pesopeo - Basic
14. Woolfy vs Projections - Return Of Starlight (Invisible Conga People Remix)