Deetron: Balance 020
Balance Music

If there's one word that comes to mind when listening to Deetron's contribution to the Balance series, it's kaleidoscopic. It's about as eclectic and encompassing as a mix could possibly be, with the Swiss melodic techno producer (real name Sam Geiser) bringing into its fold a dramatically wide range and number of artists. While some are hardly strangers to the format (Lawrence, Move D, Nicolas Jaar, Carl Craig, Maceo Plex, Surgeon, Radio Slave), others are less commonly called upon (Throbbing Gristle, Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto); regardless, Deetron's esoteric tracklisting gives the mix a powerful impact. Adding to the release's presentation, the first disc was mixed digitally (additional production and editing done with Cubase and Wavelab) and the analogue second was recorded using three turntables and an Allen & Heath mixer. Deetron treats the material fluidly by having elements of tracks drift in and out of one another, though never jarringly. With a couple of exceptions, the transitions are smoothly executed, and the parts that do overlap do so with a natural, complementary feel.

The digital disc takes flight with an Autechre intro (“Nine”) before moving rapidly on through a jacking, Detroit-styled Unabombers remix of Shit Robot's “Losing My Patience.” Even at this early stage, there's a euphoric vibe in play, with the mix oozing effervescence and style and, when the “Losing My Patience” vocal enters, soul. Brief pit stops with Todd Terje (“Bonysh”), BNJM (“Blocks”), and DJ KOZE (“The Geklöppel Continues”) follow, leading into the rapturous, jazz-inflected swing of Move D's “Your Personal Healer” and Carl Craig's re-rub of System 7's “Positive Noise.” A high point arrives midway through when the hypnotic strains of the Thom Yorke-Four Tet-Burial collaboration, “Ego,” emerge, its trippy vocal melodies and mallet percussion textures powered by a delectably funky groove that smoothly segues into Maceo Plex's equally funky “U & Me” and Caribou's acid-drenched treatment of Virgo Four's “It's A Crime.” The tempo slows a tad as we move into the disc's final laps, with the soulful “Explode” by LV and Message To Bears bleeding into the textural pianistics of Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto's “Pioneer IOO” before coming to a blazing New Wave close with Savage Progress's rambunctious “Heart Begin to Beat.”

The second disc leaps into action with as much energy and insistence as the first, and moves as quickly if not even more so. An intro by I:Cube (“Un Dimanche Sans Fin”) serves much the same scene-setting purpose as the Autechre opening on the first disc, after which Deetron moves rapidly through cuts by Substance (“Relish”) and Ripperton (“Swept Illusions”) before settling into the soulful house of Âme's surging remix of Osunlade's “Envision.” Deetron gets in on the act, too, by adding the locomotive thrust of his deep rumbler “Croque” to the set and then following it with the pulsating funk of Mathew Jonson's “Learning To Fly,” the lithe acoustic pianisms of Reggie Dokes' “Haiti,” and the old-school blaze of Romanthony's “Bring U Up.” The mix's wild, high-octane vibe carries on through tracks by Four Tet (the jazzy globe-trotter “Pinnacles”), Cosmin TRG (“Fizic”), and Radio Slave (“Let It Rain”), growing progressively more focused on raw techno as it does so. Heading home, we get the jacking, bass-throbbing skip of Deetron's “Starblazer” and a Carl Craig remix of Ronny & Renzo's “Heartbreak Theme” before Deetron takes us out with his previously unreleased thumper “Collide.”

The recording amounts to a crate-digger's dream, with Geiser threading fifty-three tracks into a seamless flow across the discs. The recording can at times feel like the mix equivalent of channel-surfing when tracks appear and disappear so quickly, and some hardly stick around long enough to lodge themselves in memory—part of the reason why “Losing My Patience” and “Ego” stand out is that Deetron gives them ample time to make their mark. One is left dizzied by the mix, and in that regard his heady set comes close to simulating the sensory overload of the club experience.

December 2011