As a DJ, Tom Stephan may not be an instantly recognisable name but that doesn’t detract from his abilities as a master technician behind a set of turntables. However, under the production guise of ‘Superchumbo’, he has created some of dance music’s most outstanding remixes, in particular Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On” and Simon’s “Free At Last”. Furthermore, his Superchumbo tracks such as “The Revolution” have left many a dancefloor screaming for more of the same. Stephan’s last compilation, “Soundworx Session 2” from 2001 was a favourite of mine for quite a long time (and still is) and helped introduce me to the sound of tribal house at a time when I started to explore aspects of dance music outside of the trance genre.
In some respect, I had expected greater things to happen for this talented DJ/producer but things appeared to go a little quiet where his name was concerned. As such, I was extremely happy to learn that he was releasing another compilation, which would feature some of his own tracks and/or remixes. I feel it’s been far too long between drinks where he is concerned so I couldn’t wait to hear what he had created this time round. Well, I’m happy to say that this particular addition to the Nite:life series is, for me, the best in the series to date. It’s about as close to brilliant that I have heard this year and there are aspects of this mix that took me by pleasant surprise. His long-standing fans will definitely not be disappointed and at the same time, I have no doubt that he will gain a large number of new fans.
“Nite:life 018 These Beats Are…” opens with the pummelling beats of Sessamato’s “I Need Somebody” which feature vocals saturated with attitude. We follow on with the funky yet dubby Latino house sounds of Chus & Ceballos vs Tedo Patterson’s “In Stereo” and then quickly move into tribal territory with the galloping drums of Trattner & Galvan’s “La Zonca Blanca”. Before long, I’m caught up in the stomping beats of Tom Stephan’s own production, “This Beat Is” under his Superchumbo moniker but remixed by Peace Division. I have to say that this is probably one of the most enjoyable tracks I’ve heard this year. I can see this driving a dancefloor absolutely insane. The beat is utterly contagious and unrelenting and is perfectly mixed with Tres Demented’s “Demented (or Just Crazy)” with Tom sampling the vocals of “This Beat Is” throughout most of the track. At one point I actually thought I was still listening to the same track and the breakdown adds quite a lot of heightened tension to the mix. Love it!
There’s a bit of breather with Bond Servants’ “Mochico 7.5 (Eddie’s LA Beatdown)” in that its feel is slightly more subdued but still maintains the tribal side of house while keeping this listener happily grooving along in her lounge room. Up next we have the melodic scorcher that is DJ Paulette’s “Laugh” and then we slowly start to hear underlying hints of Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero’s “Corruption”. I think the title says it all really as now the mix takes on a slightly dirty, sleazy house feel which has a lot to do with this track’s vocals. Following on we have the Superchumbo Wow Dub of Peace Division’s “What Is This Sound?” giving this particular track a rather techno feel. And with that I should have realised what would eventuate but it would be another couple of tracks before I got to hear Tom Stephan’s little surprise. With the Superchumbo Mix of “Shakedown” by Stacey Burket featuring Audio Angel, I honestly thought I was listening to something that Steve Lawler would pull out. It’s dark in nature and almost pornographic in feel but more than anything it’s the kind of track that will just rip holes in a dancefloor. And the raunchy vocals only make it dirtier in feel. Another one of those tracks that just stands out on this superb mix.
Just when I had this mix sorted out, I was pulled into the tech house beats of DK8’s “Murder Was The Bass”. And let me tell you, it’s ALL about that pulsating bass. This track is unbelievable to hear and for me, is THE track of this compilation. It’s definitely more techno than house but overall it just picks you up and literally throws you down into the middle of a heaving dancefloor. Don’t breathe because you don’t have time, just dance! The AMbassador Mix of “Take A Walk On The House Side” by MBG Meets Dr Feel X is the perfect accompaniment to DK8’s track. This baby bangs in all the right places and consists of an unrelenting rhythm that would bring out the wild side of the most timid person. The mix continues with the throbbing beats of the Eric Powell Mix of Carl Cox’s “Moroccan Chant” and then onto Groovemates’ cracking “Space Ride” with its primeval tempo. As we near the close of this mix, the groove takes on subliminal house tones with the infectious “Work These Speakers” by Roman S. A great bass infused track that still retains a dancefloor friendly beat but in some ways is quite calming. It’s almost a juxtaposition of terms! The mix comes to a close with the sing-a-long beauty of the Justin Drake Mix of Tutto Matto’s “Peace”. In some way, I’m reminded of old skool house numbers from the early 90’s and I couldn’t help but smile at the memories of certain tracks from that era. As such, this is a brilliant and reflective ending to an extremely enjoyable compilation.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at not only Tom Stephan’s choice of tracks but in his decision to use tunes that would suit a typically techno mix. To say that I enjoyed this mix is being kind because I absolutely love it. From the opening track to the closing, I was gripped in the sound of tribal house and twisted techno. Even though I expected a superior mix from one of my favourite DJs and producers, I honestly didn’t expect it to please me as much as it did. I remember making the decision to walk home from work with the aim of listening to this compilation. I’m so glad I made that decision because after a rather unfortunate day at work, I found myself smiling again. As I’ve said previously, this is one of the best, if not most brilliant, mixes I’ve heard this year. If I was to be brutally critical on a technical side, I found the mixing between Stacey Burket featuring Audio Angel’s “Shakedown (Superchumbo Mix)” and DK8’s “Murder Was The Bass” to be a little questionable. But I can overlook that because the transition between these two tracks can be quite difficult.
To be honest, I never would have thought that during a tribal inspired house mix, I would actually be hearing a techno inspired track or two. Not only that but that they would be well suited within the mix I’m hearing. I can’t help but feel that Tom Stephan spent a great deal of time laughing quietly when he made this mix. If anything, it’s very sassy in feel and as a result, I enjoy this compilation even more. As such, I have no doubt I will continue to enjoy this mix not only now but in many years to come. I’m quite certain that Tom Stephan hasn’t reached the true depth of his talents and we’re only just witnessing the surface of his talents being scratched. With this in mind, I have no doubt that he will continue to be a constant influence in dance music when others have peaked and subsequently disappeared.
1. Sessamato – I Need Somebody
2. Chus & Ceballos vs Tedo Patterson – In Stereo
3. Trattner & Galvan – La Zonca Blanca
4. Superchumbo – This Beat Is (Peace Division Mix)
5. Tres Demented – Demented (or Just Crazy)
6. Bond Servants – Mochico 7.5 (Eddie’s LA Beatdown)
7. DJ Paulette – Laugh
8. Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero – Corruption
9. Peace Division – What Is This Sound? (Superchumbo Wow Dub)
10. Stacey Burket featuring Audio Angel – Shakedown (Superchumbo Mix)
11. DK8 – Murder Was The Bass
12. MBG Meets Dr Feel X – Take A Walk On The House Side (Ambassador Mix)
13. Carl Cox – Moroccan Chant (Eric Powell Mix)
14. Groovemates – Space Ride
15. Roman S – Work These Speakers
16. Tutto Matto – Peace (Justin Drake Mix)