VA: Balance presents jozif
Balance Music

One shouldn't be too surprised to find jozif (Jozif Goodwin) bringing a fresh perspective to his Balance mix. The English DJ and producer is, after all, the son of a professional drummer father and Royal Ballet ballerina mother, and one thus assumes the family household was filled with all kinds of music while he was growing up. Having said that, his seventy-three-minute set clearly gravitates in the direction of vocal-based house music with a pronounced soulful and melancholy edge. It's also worth noting that when jozif was preparing the mix, a good friend of his suddenly passed away, which consequently prompted him to go back and re-fashion the mix's mood and dial down its original upbeat vibe. As a result, the set follows an interesting trajectory that sees the mix gradually shift from the blue mood of its first half to one that's more spirited and hopeful.

The set certainly opens arrestingly, with jozif selecting the dream-like slumber of Charles Webster's “Butterfly” as the entry point. It's an ultra-emotive ballad of heartfelt and melancholic character that centers its spotlight firmly on a soulful lead vocal and the acoustic guitar and ambient textures that support it. As ear-catching is the unexpected tempo shift that sees the opener segue into the more club-primed “Our Friends Electric” by Glimpse and the late Martin Dawson, the song's title an obvious allusion to the Gary Numan track of many years past. Like the opener, it's a vocal track, this one delivered in hushed tones that complement its alluring, late-night feel. The mix's luscious, blissed-out vibe persists throughout Lake Powell's “More or Less” (the combination of its serenading piano chords and relaxed groove a particularly potent narcotic) before shifting via Yoko0's funky “blinded” into Steffi's “Sadness,” a gorgeous slice of vocal melancholia (“Loneliness, emptiness, no happiness just sadness”) that most powerfully embodies the mix's bluer side.

The set's hardly a down trip, however, as, after “Sadness,” jozif circumspectly balances its plaintive cuts with energized tracks like Silicone Soul's “One Thing,” Burnin' Tears' soaring “How I Feel,” and Ian Pooley's synth-heavy epic “Compurhythm.” As the end nears, jozif sneaks in a couple of choice originals, too, the first a sultry, downtempo beauty (“BT's 3”) and the second a string-laden slab of bass-heavy sparkle (“BT's 5”), before exiting with the slinky, shoegaze-like atmospherics of Rob Shields' “Slum Room.” One final clarification is in order: the jozif mix isn't the twenty-third chapter in the Australian label's double-disc compilation series; instead, it inaugurates the new Balance presents compilation series, which is predicated upon giving emerging electronic music talents a chance to strut their stuff. jozif certainly uses the opportunity well to show how deftly he infuses his skills as a dancefloor-driven DJ with sensitivity and musicality.

April 2013