Described as “atmospheric and downtempo” in the accompanying press materials, this release partially lives up to its billing. Mixed by David Ireland, founder of BPM magazine, the songs chosen for this disc were all intended to flow seamlessly from one track to another. In his liner notes, he describes his overall purpose as providing, “a group of songs that I believe captures an emotional texture and will stand the test of repeated listening.”
It is surprising, then, that he chose a cover version Bill Withers’ classic track, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” as the opening track. Although admirably performed by The Azul Project (who I believe are the performers — the disc only lists “STRYKE presents THE AZUL PROJECT”), I found myself constantly referring back to the original version and instead of losing myself in the mix, I was all the more focused. Of all the tracks at his disposal, it is puzzling that this was the one chosen to open this collection. The next track, performed by Coldcut, is an admirable stab of a soul-influenced slow groove. It too has a few snags that permeate this disc, but perhaps it was my expectations.
Reading the accompanying press material and reviewing Ireland’s credentials, you would expect this disc to resemble something more along the lines of Paul Oakenfold’s works, or perhaps Sasha and Digweed. That is, a fun and atmospheric synthesis of other performers’ songs held together by the DJs acumen and skill with the turntable. Not so here, this product resembles more a themed mix tape put together by a good friend. It holds together well but there is certainly nothing here to give other DJs a run for their money. The songs remain discrete and retain their own characteristics instead of gently and creatively blending into one another. If you are familiar with an artist such as DJ Shadow, then you will probably be dismayed at what you find here.
All told, for what this disc actually is, it holds together well. It is a gracious and sympathetic foil to listen to at dusk or when bewitched by the narcotic effects of decongestants. Some of the tracks like, Aqua Bassino’s “Moon Light,” and The Amalgamation of Soundz’s “Ten Scroats to a Pound,” are noteworthy in their own right and deserve the wider attention this release affords. Yet, one can’t help but noticing that attention to an individual artist’s work is not what this release was intended to do.
Milan Records: http://www.milanrecords.com