Nick Warren: Balance 018
Balance Music

It wouldn't altogether surprise me if a goodly number of listeners and reviewers slot Warren's mix within a secondary tier of Balance mixes, given that the eighteenth chapter unspools like an ultra-smooth and breezy cruise down the freeway rather than a hellraiser whose intensity level is pitched so high it feels like it might jump off the rails at any second. But to these ears such a move would sell Warren short, for if anything it's that ultra-smooth quality that makes Warren's mix so appealing. His is one for the dance floor and the lounge, a mix that encourages us to relax and enjoy the scenery rather than see it vanish before our eyes. He opts for smooth segues throughout in contrast to other Balance contributors who've opted for jarring shifts and stark juxtapositions.

Ormatie's graceful “Only” eases the listener into disc one, and the mix gradually picks up steam as it moves into Spieltape's “Morning Paper,” all the while showing Warren to be a master of the slow build, each mini-peak well-timed and well-earned. Like a day dawning, Underset's “Berlin” gently blossoms, after which the increasingly percolating mix plunges into the deep house head-rush of Fiord's “The Tribe Has Spoken” and jacking blaze of Eelke Kleijn's “Monkey Movin'.” Propelled by a synth bass figure, Kleijn's cut digs into its driving pulse with fury, its hi-hats scalpel-sharp and its beat throb crisp, before melting chords add a dubby character to the tech-house stormer “Without Sound” by Jamie Anderson and Owain K. Warren's own “Buenos Aires” brings some tight snap to the proceedings, while Franck Orff's “Hibiscus” chimes resplendently before Giorgos Gatzigristos's “Tickless” brings the first half to a semi-feverish close.

As solid as the first, disc two leads off with Warren's bass-thrusting remix of Tripswitch's twitchy and tripped-out “Collider” and Julio Largente's acid-disco workout “Darkened Underpass” before sliding into the deadly, rumbling shimmy of Lank's “Ain't No Problem.” Cuts by Yamil Colucci (“Bristol Warm”) and Victoria R (“Cosmos”) both keep the fire burning and set the stage for Solee's anthemic “Aragorn,” Steven Libby's radiant “80D Test,” and Solee's remix of Warren's own anthemic “Flowers,” until Pablo Acenso's “Bread” ends the release on a still exuberant note. Unlike other installments (Joris Voorn's fabulous Balance 014 comes to mind), Warren spreads a modest selection of twenty-two cuts across the mix's two eighty-minute discs, whereas some volumes have squeezed the same number into the first disc alone. Each cut is granted ample room to breathe, in other words, which only strengthens the mix's languorous vibe, and everything comes together seamlessly in Warren's sophisticated set, making Balance 018 go down about as easily as any release in the series ever has.

May 2011