Two reissues drawing from an iconic Dutch techno label.
But dance music has reached an age where newer people to the scene might simply not be aware of what Djax-Up-Beats is, or what it represents. It has, after all, been 20 years since the label was at the height of its powers. There is some sense in a wildly popular Dutch label celebrating its older equivalent. The release format of these first two volumes of Djax-Re-Up, the first of which came out in February, is a relevant detail in this discussion. The full Djax-Up-Beats catalogue has been available digitally for years, but some prices for vinyl copies on Discogs are starting to creep up without reaching outrageous levels. (At the time of writing, the most it'd cost to own a track from this compilation in its original vinyl form is around €25.) A newly pressed and affordable vinyl copy of some classic tracks from a revered label is quite an easy sell.
And there are some classics here. The one to talk about most immediately is Random XS's "Give Your Body," which was actually reissued by Delsin earlier this year. In both RA's label of the month feature and a short Dekmantel-produced documentary, Slegers describes "Give Your Body" as the quintessential Djax-Up-Beats track. It came out in '92, but it would be easy to fool someone into believing it was released on a label like Trip last week, such is the enduring power of its tunnel-like acid line and wavy vocal sample.
The two Felix Da Housecat tracks are also pretty special. "Temptation (Color Mix)," released in '93 and appearing here on the second volume, has some Mr. Fingers in its chunky bassline and late-night atmospheres, while "Freakadelica," featuring the sex coos of Sofie Bloo, is partly smutty, partly sultry. K'Alexi Shelby's "Sex-N-R 001" is also an ageless ode to time between the sheets. Other humid house tracks by DJ Skull, Steve Poindexter and Mike Dearborn show just how deep the connection between Slegers and the Chicago scene was. None of which is to forget the valuable contributions from Dutch and European artists, especially the lovely beatless cut "Humid Empire" by Planet Gong, an alias of the Dutch producer 2000 And One, and the gorgeous "Float Baby" by Hexagone, AKA the French artist St Germain.
Djax-Re-Up does a nice job of highlighting the incredible Chicago talent the label showcased, and it makes clear that Slegers had a honed instinct for signing subtle house music anthems. But, if you'll allow me to speak here as a fan of the label rather than a music critic: where is the hard stuff!? While it's true this series seems to be moving chronologically and Djax-Up-Beats was more house-orientated in the early days, to not at least hint at the sheer techno madness that would become the label's core sound is frustrating. If one of the hypothetical newcomers I mentioned above only heard these two compilations, I'd venture that they'd be left with a distorted impression of what Djax-Up-Beats was and why so many people loved it.
The most recent track here is The Operator's "The Mind Strike," released in 1997—by which time Djax-Up-Beats had put out club destroyers by the likes of Claude Young, Acid Junkies, Stephen Brown, DJ Skull, DJ Rush, Miss Djax herself and many, many others. To take nothing away from some of the obvious quality that is here, the upshot of not including any of this means that the Djax-Re-Up series so far can't help but feel sanitised.
Tue / 3 Sep 2019
01. Terrace - Bewitched
02. Glenn Underground - Real Space
03. Felix Da Housecat - Temptation (Color Mix)
04. China White - Theme From The Underground
05. The Operator - The Mind Strike
06. Steve Poindexter - Body Jam
07. Mike Dearborn - Deviant Behaviour (Instrumental Mix)
08. DJ Skull - Don't Stop The Beat
01. Ismistik - Flow Charts
02. Glenn Underground - 101 Dolmations
03. Felix Da Housecat - Freakadelica
04. Planet Gong - Humid Empire
05. Terrace - 916 Buena Avenue (Influenza Mix)
06. Hexagone - Float Baby
07. Random XS - Give Your Body
08. K'Alexi Shelby - Sex-N-R 001 (Vocal Mixx)