VA: Compost Black Label Series Vol. 5 (compiled & mixed by Thomas Herb)

Fans of Crosstown Rebels and acts like Damian Lazarus and Art Department should find much to appreciate about this new DJ mix-compilation of underground techno and house prepared by Compost family member Thomas Herb. The fifth installment in the imprint's Black Label Series sequences recent Compost cuts by Phreek Plus One, Muallem, Emil Seidel, Philipp Stoya, Emilie Nana, Lukas Bohlender, and others into a scenic seventy-nine-minute trip.

One of the mix's distinguishing characteristics is that its smooth, relentlessly grooving flow strengthens its sense of cohesiveness, despite the fact that stylistically it follows a path filled with multiple twists and turns. Joash's “Don't Fear It, Fight It” and Emilie Nana's “Like You,” for example, inject a smattering of breezy Balearic flavour into the mix, whereas the DJ T. remix of Phreek Plus One's (feat. Mr. White) “Passion” exudes a Depeche Mode-styled aura, especially in its vocal lines. Jazz, funk, and Chicago House are other checkpoints that appear during the ride.

Herb starts the set on a high with the grooving bass rumble of Rey & Kjavik's “Listen,” a lithe and funky slice of clubby darkness that deftly establishes the recording's late-night underground vibe. Near the halfway mark, Muallem's body-shaker “Holland Tunnel” moves the mix into a sparkling house zone sprinkled with jazzy vibes and sax sweetening, the tune's effervescence evocative of the kind of anticipatory rush one experiences in viewing the Manhattan skyline after emerging from the infamous tunnel. Collaborating with SHOW-B, Herb bewitches the mix with exotic, synth-heavy mystery in “Rosso Costiera” before draping it with uplift via Dima Studitzky's remix of Rainer Trueby's “Welcome to Our World.” In the mix's final stage, Seidel gets a serious house groove on in “Tumbling” before Jay Shepheard's “Otter Bronze” and Lukas Bohlender's “Club Chateâu” dim the lights. If there's one word that characterizes the mix, it's seductive, as Herb deftly draws the listener into the Compost universe from the get-go and keeps a firm hold until the final note.

October 2013