Now, this is how you handle that potentially thorny commission: the label compilation mix. Working within this constrained format (all the tracks are Soma releases from 2012), Gary Beck parks his ego and gets straight to the point. In just under an hour, he sprints from DeepChord's dusty dub techno to a rolling, effervescent peak of chattering machine funk (Mark Reeve's "Dice," his own "Algoreal"), before easing us down with Matthias Tanzmann's remix of Silicone Soul's "Right On, Right On" and Villalobos's take on Envoy's "Seawall."
It's not flashy. It's not fussy. Beck is clearly in command of his source material, but there is an underlying sense, too, that he has to get a move on. This is not a platform for his creativity as a DJ. The primary function here is to give a snapshot of where Soma is at and, perhaps, correct the common misapprehension that this Glasgow institution is exclusively a hard techno label. This Beck does capably, as he spins through Mark Henning's "You're Digging Into Me" and a VonStroke mix of "Mothership Reconnection" (where we get not just vocals but a palpable funkiness), while simultaneously showcasing the minimalism of Heiko Laux and Steve Rachmad's "The Viking" and providing a little historical perspective by way of Funk D'Void.
Despite its functionality, Soma 21 is hugely refreshing. Much as the patient mix can be a wonderful thing, so there are times when you just want to get in there and get busy (see also Ben Klock's fabric mix). Soma 21 is like going 0-60 MPH in a very expensive car. It's smooth, the gear changes are effortless, it covers a lot of ground in a short space of time and it races towards an explosive climax which, tantalisingly, never quite materialises. It is that rarest of things, a commercial DJ mix which leaves you wanting more.
Buy Gary Beck - Soma Compilation 21 at
Tracklist: Gary Beck - Soma Compilation 21 01. DeepChord - Tonality of Night - Spiral 1
02. Joe Stawarz - M17 (Ambivalent's Byways remix)
03. Heiko Laux & Steve Rachmad - The Viking
04. Scott Grooves feat. Parliament Funkadelic - Mothership Reconnection (VonStroke Energy Pattern Mix)
05. Mark Henning - You're Digging Into Me
06. Pig & Dan and Mark Reeve - Origami
07. Mark Reeve - Dice
08. Gary Beck - Algoreal (12-inch mix)
09. Alex Under - Addendum
10. Funk D'Void - Diabla (Christian Smith & Wehbba 'Final Track Of The Night' edit)
11. Silicone Soul - Right On, Right On (Matthias Tanzmann remix)
12. Envoy - Seawall (Ricardo Villalobos remix)