This time around Lazarus has moved aside for Jamie Jones, which seems very emblematic of the current shift away from minimal techno and towards housier, ‘deeper’ tracks. And indeed this is also reflected in the music – it would be hard to imagine a more accurate sketch of the sounds that are big right now than this mix.
There are electrifying moments here like DJ Spell’s ‘Lisa’, which hits very hard with sirens and aggressively punchy beats, or Jones’ own ‘Panama City’, with its queasy, rolling bass giving way to rising metallic arpeggios. And then of course there is the obvious, but still dramatic inclusion of Larry Heard’s ‘The Sun Can’t Compare’.
But the stand-out is probably Zander VT’s fantastically named ‘Dig Your Own Rave’, and it stands out precisely because it doesn’t fit into the neo-deep, neo-Detroit pigeonhole in which the rest of the mix resides. It has big overdriven riffs, but doesn’t blare them at the listener Ed Banger style. Instead it folds, undercuts and phases them to create euphoria, which is made sublime by following it up with the aforementioned Mr. Heard.
Overall this feels like a mix that you want to like – it’s well blended, up-to-the-minute and has nicely judged transitions. But, like a lot of the neo-deep house it champions, it just isn’t terribly exciting. For many avid tech-house heads that isn’t an issue – this is a style of mixing that prides itself on establishing drawn out, flowing grooves rather than euphoric peaks of excitement. However, I have to say that personally that I prefer a little more drama in my mixes.
That’s not to say that Jones is a bad DJ. In fact he’s a very good one – the transitions and programming here are beautifully judged and manage to make many of the tracks more exciting than might otherwise be. But it does feel as though he was under a certain obligation here to stick to the CTR ‘house style’ of mix CDs, which is that all the tracks must be recent and upfront (as opposed to say Michael Mayer’s habit of using tried and tested personal favourites). Perhaps he felt restricted by the need to use what is currently popular.
So if you enjoy this new strain of ‘deep’ tech house, this is a great CD for you. However, I have to say that this particular musical evolution does worry me because, unlike electrohouse and minimal, this is very familiar territory for dance music. It's not territory that is very likely to excite those outside the current club scene, and youngsters attention is more likely to be swayed by the dayglo fashion shenanigans of the indie-dance posse.