"Wake me Up, Junior! Wake me up", cheered the early morning crowd at the now-legendary New York club, Twilo. It was my first time hearing Junior spin live, and I remember watching the spin-master survey the mass of writhing bodies below him -- a half-smile etched upon his scruffy face -- as he kicked out one of the most rousing tribal house sets I've ever experienced.
In the ever-evolving world of dance music, one thing remains the same: Junior knows how to wake up a dance floor.
On his newest CD, Twilo, Volume 1, the superstar DJ serves up a 24 track, double disc set which was recorded directly from DAT tapes of actual Twilo sets. This means that, unlike previous Junior comps, this collection beams its listeners directly onto Junior’s dance floor, allowing them to experience all the tricks and special effects of the master directly from the DJ booth.
The glow-in-the-dark thread that connects the tracks on CD 1 is Junior’s trademark, thumping tribal beat sound, especially on “Indo” and “Floating Higher”, the first two tracks on the CD. Look for an especially tweaky sounding track called “Swallow It Down”, which features a computerized male voice urging listeners to, well, swallow. Fast-forward over the Donna De Lory “On and On” where the singer sounds too much like a speed-ed up Dolly Parton, and not in a good way. Rank 1’s “Airwaves”, is the most user-friendly track on the first CD. Complete with more computerized voice-overs and lots of ‘80s synth sounds, the track seems tailor-made for those middle-of-the-road dance floors where the boys keep their clothes on.
Disc 2 is the Diva CD. Look for a fabulous remix of Shannon’s “Let the Music Play”, which manages to retain all the musical and vocal integrity of the original song, but with a decidedly contemporary twist. Charlotte (of Soul II Soul fame) makes a worthwhile appearance on this CD with ” Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, as does Jocelyn Brown (“Believe”), Kelis featuring Terrar (“Good Stuff”) and Vernessa Mitchell with her club smash “Higher”.
It’s appropriate that the inaugural CD in the Twilo series is from Junior Vasquez (born Donald Mattern), not only because his sound represents New York-style dance music in its purest form, but because he has been holding court at Twilo since 1997. In fact, he devotes so much time to the club-where his marathon dance sets can run upwards of 14 continuous hours-that his DJ booth comes equipped with a kitchenette.
If you are a Junior fan, Twilo, Volume 1 will make a satisfying addition to your dance collection. If, however, you don’t have an ongoing love affair with that continuous tribal beat sound, then look elsewhere, gentle reader. No, this collection doesn’t break any new ground, and, no, it probably doesn’t have the lasting power of more experimental offerings from, say, DJ Sasha or Paul Oakenfold. Nevertheless, Twilo, Volume 1, with its blend of hardhouse, epic and, yes, tribal beats, is guaranteed to “wake up” even the most jaded club music fan.
Just ask the kids at Twilo.