The odd thing about Kerri as a DJ is that for someone that has been so respected for so long he has released very few mix CDs and none that are considered classics. ‘Southport Weekender 6’ is classic. It gets 5/5 for a simple reason - it’s a perfect summation of who Kerri Chandler is as a DJ, and for people who follow his style it’s a wonderful record. To not give it 5/5 is to be critical of the genre it sits in, and not of the record itself.
Disc 1, which is the more upbeat and raw of the two, makes stunning use of minimalism and contrast in its sequencing. So many tracks are just a beat, a voice and a few flourishes and this injection of space into the mix and the sound means it can hold you spellbound in a way that busier, denser deep house mixes often can’t. Kerri knows how to make a single element of a song pop out and grab you by the ears, and uses the differences between two singers to avoid the ‘vocal wallpaper’ effect.
Noteworthy moments are the lyrical complexity, virtuoso performance and killer bassline of Abstract Truth’s ‘We Had a Thing’ and the moment where Kerri lays several minutes of the almost unbearably intense ‘Just Believe’ vocal loop over the powerful chassis of ‘P 2 da J’. Overall this disc just bumps, grabbing your limbs and more importantly your hips in a whirlwind of sexy instinctive rhythms with no hint of an awkward transition or an out-of-place track.
Disc 2, which is more full-sounding and slightly more laid-back in feel, still has transcendent songs like Fertile Ground’s ‘Love in the Light’ but more often steps over the line from classic to corny. For example Kenny Bobien parodies himself on ‘My Joy’ (from 2003) with a vocal that sounds remarkably similar to a number of his previous releases, in particular 1996’s ‘Stand Up’. Similarly the clunky polemical vocals on Yass’s ‘I Go Deep’ will sound very familiar to anyone who knows Roland Clark’s ‘I Get Deep’ (2000) or indeed Chandler’s own ‘Oblivion’.
But however low your tolerance for old-school deep house there is one track here that is absolutely essential, and that’s Tommy Bones’ ‘South Africa Deep’. Holy shit, that’s what I call a bassline. Coupled with the trippiest drums I’ve heard this year, this record is an absolute smash in any DJ’s box.
But Southport… is also classic for other reasons.
Firstly, the artists are classic – most featured here have all had careers nearly as long as the DJ has – DJ Spen, Jerome Sydenham, Robert Owens and Peven Everett all make an appearance. With a few exceptions such as Ferrer and Sydenham, these are mostly people whose current careers are far from the public eye, but who have always been staples in Mr. Chandler’s box.
Secondly, there is the mixing style. This is ‘classic’ garage mixing in the Tony Humphries mold - the songs are given time to breathe and develop and venerable tracks like Hardrive’s ‘Just Believe’ are placed next to current fare like Ferrer’s ‘P to da J’. The sequencing is second to none and one song flows well into the next. This may seem like the bare minimum required of a mix CD but anyone who’s ever tried to put together a coherent set of vocal garage knows that this is one of the hardest styles to achieve it with – the tracks don’t tend to have much ‘progression’ and one has to think not just about key, tempo and rhythm but about the lyrical content as well.
Thirdly, the genre has become classic itself. Old school US deep house and garage reached its apex a long time ago and has very few surprises left. Like 12-bar blues, it has codified rules that must be followed. This consistency, of course, has its costs as well as its benefits. There is barely a hemi-semi-demi-quaver between ‘classic’ and ‘corny’ and this mix straddles both sides of the divide. So while a sceptic could listen for 30 seconds and have all their worst suspicions confirmed, a believer would look past the clichés to what makes each track unique within those rules.
I can’t listen to a CD which is ‘classic’ in the way this one is and not meditate on the point of dance music. There’s this huge history with electronic music of expecting it to be the ‘new thing’ – to ‘push boundaries’. And a lot of people use this idea as a yardstick of what dance music is worthwhile. Southport… is not the new thing, but it’s an old thing done really well, and an old thing that still has resonance for anyone familiar with the unique flavour of experience that comes from bodies in motion to the right music at the right time.
Fri / 9 Nov 2007
01 Ben Westbeech - So Good Today (Yoruba Soul Remix)
02 DJ Rocco - Something For The Floor
03 Jon Cutler Presents - South Slope
04 DJ Spen & The Muthafunkaz Feat Ann Nesby - It's So Easy (Muthafunkaz 12" Vocal)
05 Raw Artistic Soul Feat John Gibbons - Keep On Shining
06 Adam Scott - Rainy Day
07 Nature Love - You Turn Me Around (Karu Mix)
08 Hardrive - Just Believe
09 Dennis Ferrer - P 2 Da J
10 Fanatix Feat Alex Mills - Love Connection
11 Abstract Truth - (We Had) A Thing
12 Quentin Harris Presents Cordell Mcclary - Traveling (Vocal Mix)
13 Yass - He Reigns
14 Liquid People - Son Of Dragon
15 Ferrer & Sydenham Inc. - The Back Door
16 The Overproof Soundsystem - Dub Afrika
01 Byron Moore - Life Starts Today
02 Mike Delgado - Phunk Carnival
03 Nulife Feat Kenny Bobien - My Joy
04 Fertile Ground - Live In The Light (DJ Spinna Remix)
05 Yass - I Go Deep (Original Vocal)
06 Tommy Bones - South Africa Deep
07 Peven Everett - Stuck
08 Jasper Street Co. - Smile
09 Jon Cutler Presents Feat Pete Simpson - Living
10 Markus Enochson Feat Ingela Olsson - Listen For It
11 Kenny Robien - You Belong To Me
12 Kerri Chandler - Je T' Aime
13 Bougie Soliterre - Superficial
14 Craig Loftis Presents Grand High Priest Feat Dajae - Mary Mary (M+S Mix)
15 Robert Owens & DJ Spen - A Greater Love
16 D-Pac And Terrance Fm - I Wouldn't Lie To You
17 Innervision Feat Melonie Daniels - Don't You Ever Give