It’s an alarm call for the dance community when a mainstay like Sasha shelves his record collection. Relax, the legendary North Wales DJ isn’t retiring anytime soon. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Perhaps spinning himself into a corner and realizing the limitations of vinyl, Sasha has reinvented himself as a figurehead for the digital music age.
While programs like Ableton Live are a godsend for electronic live acts, Sasha has improved upon these technologies with his own custom-designed MAVEN controller. The CD decks, turntables and records are now collecting dust in his abode, as Sasha’s latest residencies have seen him rely simply on the MAVEN mixing console, firewire connection and an iMac G5. Fundacion — his first recorded set with MAVEN and an audiologue of his residency at New York City megaclub Crobar — bears all the traits of an epic Sasha set. But as first exhibited on Involver, Sasha doesn’t merely seam the tracks together, he re-edits and loops them in real-time with his new toys.
As for the mix itself, Fundacion is even more impressive than its predecessor. Reworked versions of cuts from Swayzak, Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp and M83 all find their way onto Sasha’s LCD screen, as well as old-school classics like the sine-wave surf of Freaky Chakra’s “Blacklight Fantasy.” The tech-house impetus of the beginning caves to a grittier pulse towards the tail-end of the record, including a six-minute Berlin-aggro rendition of M83’s “Don’t Save Us From the Flames” by Kompakt star Superpitcher. It’s a strong closer that’s awash in static in its final moments, a fitting end to Sasha’s ride at Crobar. For a guy this big in the scene to shatter traditional ideology and set his own bar, it’s a welcome coup for the purist DJ community. Sasha seems comfortable enough now in his new shoes to leave the old guard behind, join the more hallowed ranks of Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos and break ground once again.