Stacey Pullen: Balance 028
If there's one thing that stands out more than anything else about Stacey Pullen's Balance outing, it's how incredibly seamless it is. Par for the mix course, the Detroit legend's set includes material by a generous number of artists—originals by Pullen as well as cuts by Rejekts, Kevin Saunderson, and Osunlade, to name a few—yet Pullen skillfully weaves them together in such a way that an inordinately large degree of uniformity results. Transitions are executed between the tracks so smoothly, the mix often seems more like a slowly mutating totality than separate bits and pieces stitched together in sequence.
Weighing in at slightly more than 150 minutes (par for the Balance mix course), it's an inspired and eclectic set-list, one heavily rooted in melody and fresh vibes. That Pullen's chosen the road less traveled is apparent in his choice of Marc Ashken's mystery-laden overhaul of Rejekts' “Strung Out In Reno” as the opener, but that's hardly the only surprise. Characteristic of the release, a bridge is effected between Rejekts' cut and Leman & Dieckmann's “Stomp” that's so gradual it verges on imperceptible. The mix isn't without considerable groove either, and by the third cut, Gurwan's remix of Folic State's “Another (NoGo) Zone,” Balance 028 is churning with the kind of single-minded conviction we've come to expect from the label series. Elsewhere on the first CD, soft piano sprinklings add sparkle to the chug of RaySoo's re-rub of DJ Hightech & IZT's “Fearless” and The Revenge's re-work of Atmosfear's “Dancing In Outer Space,” the music often calling to mind the deep, unwavering groove the J.B.'s would lay out until “The Godfather of Soul” took to the stage, and Pullen brings the first half to a sweet close with Deetron's irrepressible remix of Huxley's “I Want You.”
CD two starts on a spacey note with Anderson Noise's “UFO” before Pullen works in a couple of his own productions, the first, “Save Ourselves,” an hypnotic head-trip of Afro-futurism and broken house funk, and the second, “I'm Coming,” a more intricate exercise in kinetic motion. Similar to the first half, the second locks into position at about the ten-minute mark and then never lets go, with in this case Peter Gibney's “Fine Lines,” E-Dancer's “Foundation,” Kevin Over's “2002,” and Hoito's “Modern Kush” bringing the requisite thunder. Interestingly, as it enters its final quarter the mix moves into a strong, Afro-house-styled sequence via Jad & The Ladyboy's “Be My Friend,” Oscar P's “Reactions of You,” and Osunlade's “Schavanna.” Tracks of contrasting character and design surface throughout the two halves, but they're all held together by Pullen's commitment to groove, and with decades of experience to draw upon, he makes crafting Balance 028, his first official compilation in six years, seem like the easiest thing in the world.