In that regard, it is fair to say that the much-feted city-bound Global Underground mix series has been at the heart of shaping progressive house’s own tastes for a while now, which is why the latest Felix Da Housecat addition to the series’ roster was received with justified suspicions. A lot has been said already about the “un-progressiveness” of the Chicago-based DJ, but everyone will agree that a genre’s longevity and general pertinence is tightly bound to its capacity to evolve and encompass the best of surrounding trends, i.e. its overall openness. In actual fact, though, CD1 is surprisingly sterling by any genre’s standards and shouldn’t scare away those holding their breathe for the upcoming Nick Warren album for the series: the way Felix is toying with the listeners quite early in the mix with ‘Thick as Thieves’, ‘Blank Scenario’, and ‘Bangbop’, for instance, with transitions insisting both on the songs’ dynamics and the receivers’ expectations, is progressive in essence but universal in aims. Sure, the Philipp Straub edit of Christopher Groove’s “Maximal MNML” might have more to do with tribal house than anything actually progressive (or, for that matter, maximal or minimal: the most hope-deceiving title ever, then!), but scene-definer Sasha’s ‘Who Killed Sparky?’ should calm down vintage progressive fans, with its Holden-esque skewed and frail melody. Even though it barely lasts three little minutes – which would sound rather counter-intuitive in the context of a classical progressive mix, mind you –, the way it naturally morphs into Benny Benassi’s ‘Love and Emotion’ has all the necessary spine-tingly effects of Burridge or Digweed at their most anthemic. Finally, the inclusions of Dubfire and Pig & Dan shows Felix is well in touch with current trends from the techno underground, either European or American. In fact, only his own ‘Tweak’ sticks out like a sore thumb: still massively thumping in itself, the almost three-year-old single’s apparition is a regrettable (yet forgettable) error in judgment and would have been more naturally at home on CD2.
Speaking of which, this is where the Felix all progressive fans were initially afraid of takes over… and this is where GU 34 sadly disappoints. On the whole, CD2 is more in synch with Felix’s mixes from Electroclash’s heydays, 2002’s Excursions and 2003’s Bugged Out, i.e. this is where his selection sounds the most dated and, hmm, tasteless. His own ill-received Diddy-enhanced ‘Jack U’ shows up, as well as John Dahlbäck’s ‘Blink’, a track that commercially crossed-over, everyone will remember, about twelve months ago: too old to be edgy yet too young to be revived already, its insertion here just sounds plain embarrassing (both for the DJ and the series). The same can be said about David Carretta’s ‘Vicious Game’, one of nü-electro very few “classics”, but that track is so attached to its beginning-of-the-decade context it is hard not to cringe when you hear it for the thousandth time (hey, Mister DJ, Carretta has produced many other cuts worthy of interest since then, you know!). Serene and more delicate moments from Sally Shapiro, Lopazz, and Kris Menace feat. Fred Falke, in these circumstances, are literally eclipsed and can’t do much to seriously salvage the whole thing. Emotionally, then, CD2 can’t do anything for anyone.
Overall, GU34: Milan is a mixed affair and a mixed blessing: it shows Global Underground’s willingness to open its door to unlikely and unexpected figures, but it only half-successfully helps reassessing Felix’s own credentials as a DJ and, most importantly, a taste-maker. That said, anything (such as CD1) that can make you forget so easily the guy’s horrendous latest attempt at the long-player format is more than satisfying by me.
Mon / 19 May 2008
01 Chip E - It's House
02 Josh Wink - Thick As Thieves
03 Dettmann|Klock – Blank Scenario
04 Chris Liebing - Bangbop
05 Alex Bau - Halifaxfunk
06 Christopher Groove – Maximal MNML (Philipp Straub Edit)
07 Sasha - Who Killed Sparky?
08 Benny Benassi - Love and Emotion (Instrumental)
09 Thomas Bangalter – Outrage
10 Felix Da Housecat – Tweak!
11 Armando -151
12 Pig & Dan - Deliverance
13 Dubfire – Emissions
14 Par Grindvik - Continue In My Words (Dettman | Klock Remix)
15 Man-DA - Principino
16 Chymera - Arabesque
01 Sally Shapiro – Hold Me So Tight
02 Boys Noize – Shine Shine
03 Quando Quango - Love Tempo
04 Lopazz – 2 Fast 4 U
05 JoJo De Freq – Saturn Returns
06 6 Armand Van Helden - Je T'aime (Switch Remix)
07 Felix Da Housecat Vs. Diddy – Jack U (Angelo & Ingrosso Remix)
08 John Dahlbäck – Blink
09 Etienne De Crécy – Punk
10 Charlie Fanclub - Nightbreed
11 David Carretta - Vicious Game
12 Anthony Rother – Moderntronic 1
13 Model 500 - No UFOs (Vocal Mix)
14 Liaisons Dangereuses - Peut Être…Pas
15 Endangered Species – Ping Pong
16 Ramsey & Co - Love Call (Harvey's Mix)
17 Felix Da Housecat - Radio (Shinichi Osawa Remix)
18 Kris Menace Feat Fred Falke – Fairlight