Lee Curtiss: Watergate 08

It's interesting to hear how much Lee Curtiss's contribution to the Watergate series focuses on raw funk and soul as opposed to techno and house in the pure sense. While it's still a thumping techno/house recording, nominally speaking, his mix features as much vocal-based funk as it does straight-up dance grooves (consider, for example, how much Maayan Nidam's remix of Guy Gerber's “Hate Love” suggests New Wave as much as anything dance-related).

Curtiss brings the funk right off by opening the album with a dark mashup of his “Drivin'” and Jazzler aka Dixie Yure's “Beth & The Gamma Ray's Fields,” the result not totally unlike a deep club cut of the kind Matthew Dear might produce. With their chunky bass lines and percolating funk rhythms, Maceo Plex's “Fallin'” and “Your Style” and Footprintz's “The Things That Last Forever” and “The Favorite Game” (both of the latter Curtiss edits) lock the mix's groove solidly in place and keep it there for the duration. In addition, Parisian trio dOP get two slots, one for “After Party” and the other for the lowdown “Your Sex,” James Teej adds a smattering of slinky electro-funk to the proceedings via “Daytime Ringer,” Hot Natured and Ali Love bring a sexy soul-funk vibe to the mix with “Forward Motion,” and a Ryan Crosson remix of Alex Smoke's “Make My Day” kicks up some hit-wired tribal dust two-thirds of the way through (its repeated breakdowns and startups make Smoke's track one of the mix's most memorable).

Located alongside the river Spree, Watergate has established itself not just as a key underground electronic music institution but as a renowned mix CD series too, with Sascha Funke, dOP, and Ellen Allien, among others, having contributed to the series before Curtiss. He ably forms a bridge between two dance music capitals, Berlin and Detroit, as he's called both places home during the last four years. In truth there's not a whole lot that distinguishes his mix dramatically from any number of other similarly conceived mixes, which shouldn't be interpreted to imply that it's not a quality set or worth one's time. If there's anything that recommends it, it's simply the material itself, as any set that includes hypnotic stormers like “Your Style,” “Your Sex,” and “Make My Day” easily earns its recommendation on the track listing alone.

September 2011