[27 August 2013]
There’s been a trend lately toward making house music awkward and overtly retro to the point of irony. Just when you’re appreciating the throwback sound you look around and realize none of these DJs are laughing. Their pencil mustaches remain pencil-straight and they’ve sailed well past irony, leapt blindly over tribute, and landed skinny jeans-first somewhere between taking themselves too seriously and having absolutely no idea that this all happened before. Thankfully—that’s coming to an end. In a sense the decade of label DFA’s domination, some might say infection, of the dance floor with their brand of weirdo disco is coming to a close. On the horizon there’s the promise of electronic music and before us is this generous two disc ray of sunshine from the Crosstown Rebels, whose mission it is to give a home to a more forward looking brand of electronic music. They’ve done it five times already with a mix CD series called Get Lost and for the sixth installment they’ve recruited notable UK producer and DJ, Orlando Higginbottom, know to most as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED).
TEED’s job is to take some of the labels hottest recent and upcoming releases and bring it all together in a seamless dance floor friendly showcase. They’re a prolific label and there’s a lot to pack in.
If you ask the label, TEED’s most notable recent accomplishments include remixes for Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and perhaps more suitably, Foals. Whether or not those are career-making accomplishments probably depends whether or not you’re the one selling the records. What it really says is that some rather accomplished and successful industry weight spotted the talent, or at least the critical nod to Orlando and his debut release, 2012’s Trouble. It’s on the strength of that album and his subsequent work that he was asked to curate and mix this Totally Enormous collection.
Though there’s a bit of a distinction in the mood of the discs they actually flow quite well as a rather lengthy single listening experience. Disc 1 focuses most on a middle of the road house music pace. It’s not a floor killing party record but more of a constant, upbeat groove. His style of mixing and song choice actually manages to waver between down-tempo minimalist house music to techno and funk. There’s enough oddities throughout to keep it all interesting. The presence of Gold Panda’s recently released, and very excellent single “Burnt Out Car in a Forest” is evidence of the quality and stature of some of the tracks here. The mix also sees the debut of a collaboration with Eats Everything called “Lion, the Lion”. This is arguably the pull-out centerfold of the mix. It’s one of the most driving rave-style beats on the record and stands out as a strong repeat candidate. Thought it too throws back to 90’s styles they manage to avoid wearing the retro pastiche and instead opt to simply incorporate some of that flavour in what is a more up to date production. There’s an industrial growl lurking at the edges which suggests a darker atmosphere than the rest of the record. But it’s not long before it lightens up again.
Overall it’s a mildly paced mix but one of the more consistent and enjoyable to come out this year. TEED and Crosstown Rebels have done a great job of bringing in and highlighting some upcoming as well as established heavy hitters like Tiga in the genres represented here. The second disc is a little easier to get lost in while still mixing together an impressive array of disparate styles. The straight-ahead techno edge appears more often this time around and serves to break up the more cerebral forays into chill-out room reflection. All of the tracks are mixed non-stop and seamless from beginning to end which may disappoint some. With a lot of electronic double-disc collections recently you get a single disc which contains a full length mix and a second which contains the unmixed versions of the tracks for those who prefer to single out the highlights or perhaps do a little mixing of their own. None of that here—it’s clear that the art of the mix itself is at the forefront and at over an hour each, this duo of CDs is poised to very effectively rock a party.