Across Borders is the latest album series on Dave Seaman’s Audio Therapy label. The concept is to serve up a feast of unmixed tracks from the best producers from a certain country – the winning first installment was from Greece, and this time around Seaman takes on the Netherlands. Home to influential artists such as DJ Remy and Sander Kleinenberg, both featured here, the lowlands have has been intrinsic in shaping the progressive house and trance landscape.
Track one is an instant highlight. Veteran DJ Remy has produced key tracks such as ‘Backstabber’ and 'Mess With Da Bull', and on ‘Unplugged’ he delivers a summery, piano-led breaks beauty. Dissimilar to the typical Remy sound, it makes for a striking opening to the album with elegant and precise beat slicing through a wobbling bass and anthemic Chable-esque hooks. Despite its simplicity, ‘Unplugged’ is an enchanting, perfectly-formed piece, and perhaps the best of the lot.
With a blatant disregard for genre pigeonholing, Dobre & Jamez pull a U-turn with ‘I Know I Let You Down’, an intense four-minute firecracker will win fans across the genres. This electrifying mosher could set both breaks and house dancefloors alight with its brutal distorted synths, punky vocals and wild rocky beats. This is frenetic dance-rock at its best, and an imaginative addition to the collection.
A compilation without Sander Kleinenberg just wouldn’t be Dutch. ‘The Right Time’ from his ‘This is Everybody Too’ comp is pure Kleinenberg gold – beautifully produced melodic music floating from breaks to house. Graceful guitar riffs peek through subtle Cass & Slide-style melodies as the track shifts to a satisfying acerbic breakdown. A first-rate track from Kleinenberg that would work as well at home as in a club, but sadly it’s an older one that most listeners will have heard already.
Roland Klinkenberg and Matthew Dekay are two cornerstones of trademark Dutch power prog. ‘Nick of Time’ is textbook Klinkenberg – mesmeric, undulating trance with a distinctive tight drum pattern and pulsing bass that give way to euphoric dancefloor hooks. ‘Weekender’ from Dekay and Mick Boskamp is again in their patented dreamy prog style: sublime rich basslines and evolving melodies. Ultimately nothing groundbreaking from either producer, but as heavyweights of the genre, they’re no-brainer additions to the Dutch prog squad here.
From the filthy tech-house of Wooferfood and Stef Vrolijk to Remy’s angelic breaks, Audio Therapy has captured an admirable cross-section of lowlands club music. As an unmixed DJ-friendly collection, there’s no overall tone or mood to speak of, but despite the gaps between the tracks, it’s surprisingly fluid and harmonious (selections are available on two 12”s as well). ‘Across Borders: Netherlands’ is a refreshing and creative take on the region-specific comp, and another triumph in the series.
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