This Balance installment from Spanish electronic producer Henry Saiz departs from the norm on a number of grounds. First of all, the thirty-one tracks featured on the two-disc set are all previously unreleased productions and exclusive collaborations with other artists, so everything sounds unfamiliar and fresh. Secondly, the mix steers clear of techno and house tracks of the kind heard on previous Balance releases; instead, we get a full-on plunge (on the first disc, primarily) into what we might call, for want of a better label, space disco. Thirdly, music by Saiz himself is prominently featured, whether in the form of remix collaborations with other artists or under his birth name or new alias Hal Incandenza. Combine those latter two aspects and what results is a homogeneous collection that often sounds more like a comprehensive artist album statement than conventional mix release. One other interesting detail about the release gives it added character: Saiz wanted to give the material a lo-fi, analogue feel and nostalgic vibe and did so by using vinyl and cassettes in crafting the mix.
Both CDs begin relatively slowly, their engines warming up, so to speak, before liftoff—and liftoff is surely the operative word here, as once the music takes euphoric flight, as it most certainly does, it remains there for good, long stretches. On disc one, Saiz gets things underway with a midtempo “We Are the Music Makers 303” remix treatment of Tyrane's “King of the Invisible Land” that gurgles funkily for six blissed-out minutes before “Mystical Tree,” a contribution by Saiz under the Hal Incandenza alias, and “1981,” credited to Saiz himself, appear. In making its way through these tracks, the music continues its slow build, with the vibe growing ever trippier with every moment. Saiz brings Jesse Somfay aboard for “Honey Wine,” where the two latch onto the song's thumping groove with vampiric intent, and then gets even funkier with one of the first half's choice cuts, the bass-heavy Hal Incandenza sparkler “Little Mountains.” As strong as it is, it's equalled by Spada's soaring “Onice,” which anchors its clarion shimmer with a percolating, low-end pulse, and Cora Novoa & Spaceman's “Black Heart,” whose gleaming pulsations make an irresistibly strong case for cosmic disco's potency. Kitkaliito (“Letting Go”) and Esperanza (“Ink”) ease the mix down slightly from the high intensity of what's come before Saiz cranks it up one final time with “Eterno Retorno.”
Proggy synth pulsations in Calypso Synth Ensemble's “Gaia” and Armed's “Caminando Sobre la Superficie del Sol” get the second disc off to a ‘70s-styled cosmic start, and the mix quickly builds from there until it's thoroughly airborne by the time the locomotive fifth track, Mono Electric Orchestra's “Indifference,” arrives. In contrast to the tight focus of the first half, the second opens up, albeit subtly, into other stylistic areas, with hints of techno and house seeping in as the mix develops. The light-speed trance-raver “Gloom” by Spada and Saiz is anything but, while “Zen Boat” by Dosem and Saiz and “Together” by Border Community's Ricardo Tobar blaze with feverish intensity. High points include: the aptly titled collab between Saiz and Marc Marzenit, “Radiance”; Liz Cirelli & Minski's “Trip of the Dolphin,” whose sweetly singing violin can't help but catch one's ear; and Saiz's “Come Wander With Me,” where a clockwork minimal house attack receives a boost from Anneke van Giersbergen's dreamy vocal turn. Truth be told, the first CD alone constitutes an adequate Saiz mix all by itself, but Balance, as per usual, opts for the double-disc treatment mix (as trainspotters know, the label even goes in for three-disc sets, as indicated by Jimmy Van M's tenth installment). Embodying a Saiz odyssey of sorts, the release is another quality outing in the Balance series and definitely rewards one's time and attention.