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Balearic Anjunadeep? Hope it's a blip
on 26 July 2013
It's deep... but is it ANJUNAdeep? OK, that may seem like a bit of a pedantic or even a rhetorical question, as from the opening bars of James Grant's mix it's pretty clear that we're going to hear more of the pioneering new sound trumpeted my the dance music press around the release of 01 and 02 in the series. But here's the thing, the tunes on offer don't really surprise or thrill with the same immediacy as Grant's mixes on both 03 and 04.
It ticks over quite agreeably, if unremarkably, until Dusky save the day again (sort of) with their foray into a UK garage sound, Nobody Else. Trouble is, I've already heard this as far back as October last year, on their Radio 1 Essential Mix, so the pleasant surprise isn't such a surprise after all.
James Grant does display his production talents to the full, though, and his mix (with Andrew Bayer) of The Presets' "It's Cool" is the standout track for me, and I'm not usually the biggest fan of male vocals. Nevertheless, it transports me to a beach bar in Ibiza or Oludeniz much more than a party (of EITHER sort, if you know what I mean ;o) - before the mix ebbs away into Symbols by Solarity, a track so reminiscent of Red (the "Redder" mix) that you're left thinking, "Really?"
That said, I'd be happy if the Solarity/Dusky boys were to take over the curation of one of the discs on 06 (should there be an 06), as what comes next is a little bit of a shock for many of us who've been fanatical about this imprint from its inception.
Jody Wisternoff is an awesome DJ, producer and innovator, and what he's put together here is a mix that I'll be listening to again and again... and again.
HOWEVER, it's more beach bar than darkened room, often soulful yet happy-clappy and veering with gusto into hi-hat hell when it should be more stripped down. I wonder if that's the main reason release was put back so much, as the sound is very summery.
Opening track Ich Lass Dich Nicht Zurück by Peacemaker Project comes complete with a shimmering, uplifting sheen, courtesy of Jody himself (and the German-language vocal makes a pleasant, novel change, too) but brace yourself for a whole lotta vocals, including Aretha-style acrobatics at one point.
Wisternoff himself remixes Above and Beyond's Alchemy midway through the mix - it seems like A&B were included just to remind us that, yes. this IS an Anjuna release -- but that Jody had to reimagine it himself to get it to fit into the more familiar house vibe he's hitting us with on this disc.
In fact, you'll find his heavy fingerprints all over most of the tracks. It's deep enough, make no mistake about that, but I'm left with the nagging feeling that it doesn't sound distinct enough from the (many) deep house compilations now doing the rounds, quite possibly as a consequence of Anjunadeep's influence.
It would be silly to get all proprietorial over the series and suggest that Wisternoff "just doesn't get" Anjunadeep - clearly he does. But, to my ears, this - bar one or two tracks - is the deep house mix he'd have turned in for pretty much any label. And I'd have still listened to it. Goodness knows, I've battled through some really turgid "progressive" house releases by the like of Sasha and Digweed of late, while I looked at my watch and waited for Anjunadeep 05. I'll admit that even prior to release I was kind of apprehensive about it, as Jody Wisternoff's recent album, Trails We Blaze, left me completely cold - so on one level it's surpassed expectations.
But because the bar has been set SO high on previous outings, it's three stars from me. Good as it is, I wonder how many others are thinking, 'We waited 17 MONTHS... for that?'