Guy J - Balance Presents Guy JThough the Balance mixes have moved away from their progressive house roots in recent years, the newer Balance Presents offshoot betrays some of the series' old allegiances. The first mix came from jozif earlier in the year, and it was a dramatic affair that recalled the emotional heights of Balance's landmark entries (say, James Holden or Phil K). For the second they've tapped Israeli producer Guy Judah, better known as Guy J, a protégé of John Digweed and a firm follower in his footsteps. It's easy to hear the resemblance; Balance Presents Guy J is made up entirely of Judah's own Involver-style remixes, and has all the grandeur of Sasha and Digweed at their peak.
If that's your bag, then there's a lot to like on Guy J's mix. He has an ear for tracks that ooze with melody, and he keeps the pace at a gallop the whole time. The Radiohead-esque drawl of DJ Yellow & Flowers And Sea Creature's "No One Gets Left Behind" sets the tone, and from there it's a gorgeous flow of floaty beats, dreamy synthesizers and exotic vocal washes. Judah's fingerprints leave a uniform shimmer over the entire thing—not only did he edit every track himself, he also commissioned some of them, meaning everything is tailored specifically for this mix. If Balance Presents Guy J is anything, it's seamless.
But the disc's impeccable pacing is also its most off-putting detail. It's so slick that nothing really sticks. Judah is a capable producer, but his sound is marked more by perfection than personality. It's most comparable to Guy Gerber's recent fabric mix, although that had more of a narrative, and was full of influences from other genres. Guy J's feels like it was made on a diet of nothing but prog house compilations. There are only a few moments that stand out (usually marked by vocals), and any dramatic shifts in mood are replaced by brief breakdowns or rudimentary exercises in tension-building. If Balance Presents Guy J makes any case for Judah, it's that he's a solid producer who has some work to do if he's to step out from the shadow of his mentor.