I've never heard anything like this before. It really is different. The compiling is excellent and the mixing is extraordinary. Not only are the selected tracks interesting and original, they have been mixed together in the most exciting manner. This CD is even better then Agoria's At The Controls CD. It has more depth, feeling and vision. At The Controls was quite Techy, but here Agoria goes towards the Progressive sound. What more can I say? Both CD's in this mix are excellent. CD1 seems to be the one with the clearer vision. It just seems to drive along with greater ease. But CD2 is equally good in its more downtempo sort of way. Agoria really has taken the Balance series a step further. This series just keeps getting better and better. This CD totally re-invents what has gone before. Balance is a series where each CD is different to all the others. Since we are at #16 now, that is quite an achievement. I wholeheartedly recommend this CD if you like inventive, original Dance/House music. I don't think it will dissapoint and will probably be a bit of a surprise.....;) Having heard this CD and his At The Controls mix, I would put Agoria at the front of the Dance Avant-Garde.
Agoria's not new to the mix cd; previous efforts include his magnificent 'At the Controls' mix, which has to be one of the finest mix cds money can buy (especially disc 2), and his inventive but not entirely successful 'Cute and Cult' mix. Since this Balance mix, he has also produced a Fabric mix which displays a more house-based tracklisting. This Balance displays the more ambient and atmospheric end of agoria's tastes, and is perhaps the closest to the At the Controls mix. Both discs of the Balance build from very soft but melody-soaked atmospheric openings, and move into house, minimal and tech-house music.
The highlights of disc 1 include the haunting 'Gun' by Emiliana Torrini; by far the most dark and dramatic moment across the two discs with an eery guitar riff and brutal lyrics. Glimpse's 'Train in Austria part 2' offers an emotional climax to a run of increasingly gripping uptempo tracks. After this, a rather abrupt change of mood follows, with a live version of the Field's 'Over the Ice'. Using a live version, with a cheering crowd prominent across it, is a questionable decision and certainly rubbed the reviewer an RA Reviews up the wrong way (who rated this album a mere 2.5/5). This cheering crowd also feature across the following record and you feel transported into a club, watching a live dj set, before being taken away into a more funky place with a series of moderate funky house tracks. Arguably, Agoria had lost the mood he built throughout the first half of the set, but at least he is taking the set somewhere; moving dark psychological inner-searching to foot tapping funky vibes.
Disc 2 begins in a warmer mood than disc 1 did, with the magical 'Loud Loud Loud' by Aphrodite's Child providing a perfect other-worldly opening. The Same's incredible 'Snarpiesz Minerwa' is another highlight (and this is one of the many tracks featured in this mix that have never previously been released). Unfortuneatley, from here the mix is a little patchy. The real gems stand out much more, such as Mark Broom's 'Room 29', and Kid A's 'Lonely'.
Overall then, perhaps we get from Agoria what we should be glad of; a genuine experiment. Interestingly, it is the spells when Agoria sits too comfortably in a single genre that the set seems less alive and less absorbing. I'd rather have Agoria continuously thinking beyond genre, style and even mood, for when he does it really creates moments of mastery.
I got this album a couple of weeks and it has been looping on my iPod non-stop. Agoria is tremendously talented, amazing live but even cleverer in the studio where it is very EVIDENT he has spent a lot of time layering these beautiful, original and anti-pop tracks down.
I've always liked his productions but got my paws on his At The Controls compilations a couple of years ago which is equally amazing and even more varied - bringing in elements of R&B with Flying Lotus and rock with Grand National. If you like this, get yourself a copy of Agoria: At The Controls too. Timeless and effortless!
Agoria is out there,no doubt about that, and remind me - purely in terms of pushing the boat out musically into a wild mix of genres which create an amazing musical journey - of Mr James Holden (see the amazing Balance 6). My god this is an estatic mix though and if it doesn't raise your spirits and limbs then you have no head or body. There are voices here too and for once I don't mind because they are just amazing. Watch out if you listen on the train though because you might miss your stop. Absolutely fantastic !
Only listened to CD 1 so far - will report back after CD 2. Well done Blance - another cracker. This is getting to be my favourite series ever.
Also recommend Agoria At the Controls - another amazing mix and oneof the reasons I bought this.