I know what you're thinking. "Alex Niggemann and Steve Bug on a Rinse CD?" Or even more likely: "Who the hell is Mark Radford?" Both valid questions, sure. There's no shortage of documentation on the shift towards house in the UK bass underground, but the 18th volume of the influential radio station's mix series feels like a curveball any way you look at it. Even with several previous installments incorporating bits and bobs of house here or there, Radford's approach is much more continental, as he prefers tech house over the kind of Chicago sounds or soulful garage strains preferred by DJs like Ben UFO.
There's little quick mixing or trigger-happy record handling here: just as his selection would betray, Rinse 18 plays more like a mix you might hear on Poker Flat than on 106.8 FM in London. However, in keeping with its point of origin, Radford's selection feels anything but polite: the cross-section of European tech house and more recent British house names like Subb-an is throbbing, sexy and, most importantly, surprisingly elastic and dynamic. From the beginning with Niggemann's "Point of No Return" we get a pumping, peaktime vibe that lasts for pretty much the whole mix, through pounding bangers like Carl Craig's remix of Agoria's "Speechless" and Subb-an's mix of Noir & Haze's "Around."
Of course, that still leaves the question of who Mark Radford is. Well, he plays a prime Saturday night slot on Rinse, for a start. He's got a colourful history, and it's only the past few years he's developed this taste for tech house. Roots of his more 'nuum-friendly past are present in the inclusion of A1 Bassline's "Buoyancy," a topsy-turvy garage number that introduces some seasick dynamics into the mix. In keeping with the thread of garage, grime, dubstep, funky, dubbage and "bass music" forged by the mix CD series so far, Radford's mix has a low-end that's powerful and imposing. His brand of tech house is grounded in heroic rumbling and powerful basslines rather than getting lost in its own lightfooted intricacy.
To some audiences, Rinse 18 will be the most "challenging" instalment of the series yet: it's hard to imagine fans who eagerly gobbled up the past few efforts by Elijah & Skilliam and Oneman warming to the likes of John Tejada and Solomun. But once it gets going Rinse 18 is just as engaging and captivating as Alexander Nut's career-defining mix of soulful bass music or Marcus Nasty's UK Funky fireworks. In the greater context of dance music it's a house mix with a bumping, raucous low end, and in the context of Rinse FM it's a bit of a paradigm shift that proves oddly fitting. Either way you hear it, Rinse 18 is straight-up enjoyable.
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Tracklist: Mark Radford - Rinse: 18 01. Alex Niggeman - Point of No Return
02. Rekleiner - Some People
03. Mark Henning- Sin City
04. Max Cooper - Dark Room (John Tejada Mix)
05. Steve Bug - Wet
06. Agoria - Speechless (Carl Craig Remix)
07. James What - In the Dark
08. Lee Brink - Over You (Wildcats Remix)
09. Noir & Haze - Around (Subb-an Remix)
10. No Artificial Colours - Girl You Know
11. Al Bassline - Bouyancy
12. Tiger Stripes - Voyage (Solomun Remix)
13. Martin Landsky - Morning Caffeine
14. Lazaro Casanova - Morning Confessions
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