Satoshi Tomiie: 3D

Asking listeners to absorb nearly four hours of music may be a bold move on Renaissance's part, but the generally fabulous quality of 3D, the series' inaugurating installment by Saw.Recordings head Satoshi Tomiie, makes the journey a trip worth taking, even if a long one. The three discs are separately themed, with the first a club mix designed to mimic Tomiie's live set, the second a collection of remixes and re-edits, and the third a set of personal favourites.

The 'Club' disc's sound is crisp, clean, and smooth, the vibe bright, sunny, and largely free of angst (though it does gradually gravitate towards darker territory). The set sounds good regardless of one's label preference—disco, electro, house, Italo—with Tomiie illuminating the infectious handclaps-kickdrum pulse that persists throughout with endless variations of ultra-bright synth weaves. Highlights? Try the dramatic mechano-techno of Audiofly X's “Stolen Goods,” Jim Rivers' “Restore,” and Martin Eyerer's “Wicked Line” or the driving house groove of Uppfade's “Panga” for starters.

Disc two features well-known cuts like “Tears” (the 1989 Tomiie-Frankie Knuckles-Robert Owens classic here given a slightly acidic 303 treatment) and “Love In Traffic” (from Tomiie's 2000 debut album Full Lick and featuring Kelli Ali, one-time Sneaker Pimps singer) plus introduces jazz flavour (Loop 7's elegant “The Theme”) and neo-exotica (The Future Sound of London's “Papua New Guinea”). Though it's labeled a 'Studio' set, it's as much a mix as the opening album and, if anything, rocks even more powerfully, especially during churning cuts like Cass's “Mind Rewind,” Slok's slamming hook-fest “Lonely Child,” and Photek's epic “Mine To Give.”

Being a selection of Tomiie's favourite cuts (ranging from fusion tracks like Dexter Wansel's “Life On Mars” to trip-hop like Sneaker Pimps' “6 Underground” and the James Brown funk classic “Give It Up Or Turn It A Loose”), the third disc is the least essential of the three. Still, any platter that not only includes “Solea,” “Portrait of Tracy,” and “Palladium” but might lead listeners on to the oeuvres of Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, and Weather Report and seminal works like Sketches of Spain, Word of Mouth, and Mysterious Traveler can't be anything but a good thing. And—ignoring for a moment Azymuth's less enthralling smooth-jazz finale—could there possibly be a better way to end this encyclopedic collection than with the breezy lilt of Lonnie Liston Smith's “Summer Days”?

March 2006