Underwater 4 marks the return of a head to head mix series under the control of Darren Emerson, showcasing both his increasingly fine tuned skills as a DJ and pilot behind the label itself. In this outing, Sharem Jay climbs aboard with what one must assume is a wry smile given the promise of "electronic house and breaks with a tripped out slant". With much of the electronic dance music world knowing who Darren Emerson is, who “that” seminal electronic act he was part of is, and the various accolades such as label of the year by DJ Magazine, its no surprise this compilation has sparked some intense interest. Sharem Jay is no stranger to industry hype with many years of in-demand remix work and his own King Kong label under his utility belt. Together they make a formidable team and ensure the Underwater brand steps up another notch with this double album mix.
The first CD is Darren’s realm of "electronic house", a genre that has gained some popularity as a descriptive term simplifying the almost endless trends and styles that overflow each year. Lots of grumbling and filtered synth lines with sharp electronic stabs and ponderous sweeps and textures give this mix a consistency and unique flavour that will encourage a few arguments as to wether it is techno, house, electro or prog-something. The King Unique mix of Redanka’s “Waves” is a great example of this which is joined by Tim Deluxe’s smash "Reflections", a hot track now populating the set lists of the proponents of this sound almost by virtue of an official regulation. On the infectious vocal sample tip is "For lovers not fighters" by Evil Nine, which takes its cue from the Daft Punk rule book when it comes to repeating a sample, repeating a sample, repeating a sample. All too quickly this rocking mix comes to an end with Emerson’s own "Superbadd", which is aptly titled if badness is defined by opening up the envelopes on some serious synth filters.
With CD 2 engaged, Sharem gets more eclectic if anything. First impressions from track listing alone suggest he is anything but a purist, which is made more then clear as the disc warms itself up with M.A.N.D.Y Vs Booka Shade "body language" and a rather drawn out approach to getting things started. They definitely get started and a house party would have people hanging off of chandeliers by the time Coburn’s "We interrupt this program" pays a visit. This track is getting a lot of love at the moment and is shaping up to be a classic of the summer, along with Sharem’s own "Feel nobody" which happens to be the leading track on his own recent album release. Unexpectedly the Plump DJs "Bullet train" pulls into the station and gives a few toots of the horn before the Freestylers close the station off with a hastily faded out "Boom blast". It’s quite an unexpected journey with Sharem at the helm but definitely entertaining and even refreshing. Throw in the masterful mix by Emerson and this double compilation is bound to make an impact and leave listeners scrambling for the previous underwater mixes whilst waiting for the next. In the meantime, keep the snorkel and flippers handy as the shallow and deep end of mixes on Underwater 4 will inspire as many repeat listens as it does tempt music writers to utilise such tragically naff aquatic analogies.
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