Joris Voorn - Balance 014How do you do justice to a double mix CD that takes in over one hundred tracks? Balance 14 is such a chef d'oeuvre that it seems silly to do anything other than cowardly chirp, "Go listen, the sonics speak for themselves." On the opening track (six tracks altogether) an ethereal vocal asks, "Are you ready?" It's the only explicit moment in two hours of subtlety which then click and whirr into life, before you can even ponder the question. Voorn describes this mix as painting with music. Which is bang on. Both CDs—the first emotive and deep; the other, well, the same, but steadier—lock your mind into compositional analysis, and into interpreting the shades and tonal spread on offer. As do any decent paintings. And that's fun. So is dancing—and Balance 14 will make you do that too.
Our brains try and predict what is coming next when listening to music—extrapolating a rhythm, melody and bassline. Pleasure comes when the unexpected happens. Even the hottest house and techno is arguably formulaic. Build, float, breakdown, surge: we roughly know what's coming, even if we don't know how it will come. But with as many fragments of music interlaced as there are here (OK, Hawtin's done it before, but his elements were from a much more complementary gene pool) it's impossible to know what's coming, even after repeated listens. It's almost like a prank Ready, Steady, Cook quickie bag. Here's a bunch of mutually exclusive ingredients—go make something. Goldie, Radiohead, Flying Lotus and Ricardo Villalobos have as much in common as Jeff Mills and Hed Kandi, but are masterfully knitted together by Voorn, without commotion.
It's a Pro-Am beat head that will get the most out of this mix: Someone who can spot the sounds of Johnny D here, and the underlappings of Minilogue there. That way, you can unravel this musical ball of wool; get behind the scenes of Balance 14; and bask in both the musicality, and Voorn's ability. There are too many painfully enjoyable zeniths to mention. Sorry. But you will find your own. Whether it's a little nook in the pair of "At Les" mixes which play together, or a hidden cranny in the three way between Goldie's "Timeless" and two Sascha Funke tracks, it will be a long time before you stop returning to explore these records.