This is a collection of fine, very British progressive house that happens to come from Greece.
Dave Seaman knows a thing or two about dance music talent. He was the first editor of the seminal dance music magazine Mixmag and co-founded Stress Records, the enormously influential progressive house label that helped launch the careers of Sasha and Digweed. As a DJ, he's headlined clubs worldwide and done production work for Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys. Wherever he goes, budding producers hand him CD-R's, hoping for a lucky break. Seaman could easily hoard this unreleased material as exclusives for his DJ sets. Instead, his Audio Therapy label is releasing a series of compilations featuring up-and-coming producers from specific countries and regions. Audio Therapy Presents Across Borders: Greece is the first in this series.
Although this compilation is unmixed, it is sequenced like a DJ set. The CD starts slowly, and builds and builds, peaking near the end. The production throughout has enough depth to carry eight-minute tracks, but the deft sequencing makes the compilation an enjoyably coherent whole.
Listeners with Greece in mind may be startled by the female vocal that begins the CD in English: "Just close your eyes and dream / Send your love from within". Thankfully, the track doesn't descend into trance-y hippie sentiment. Instead, producer G Pal rolls out a stately 120 bpm house workout, the kind that Leftfield did so well back in the day. Dousk's "Bummer" follows, a perfect transition track -- it's a dubby, basic groove that never resolves and begs to be mixed with something else. The pace picks up with Viton & KST's "Yes, I See" and Phatjak's "Supermarket", Giorgio Moroder-esque electro-disco tunes that would fit well on Ghostly International. The compilation detours through the emotive breaks of Christian Cambas's "Paramount" before continuing its climb through the progressive house of Tonedepth's "Everything" and V-Sag's "I Wasn't Impressed Enough".
The next two tracks are the peak of the CD. With its pumping bassline, rock guitars, and echoing melodies, Stel & Good Newz' "Exactly What You Wanted" is a dance version of Joshua Tree-era U2. The tune is a hands-in-the-air anthem, but the roof truly rises with Nick & John Dalagelis's "Quiet (Steve Is Listening)". It's a dark ride through a futuristic pinball machine, with bleeps, whirs, whooshes, and gloriously retro 808 cowbells. The CD then closes with the ultra-compressed Casio tones of Kosmas Epsilon's "Ill Ssa" (were the kicks meant to be that flat-sounding?).
There's not much Greek about this compilation; only the occasional Mediterranean acoustic guitar gives any regional flavor. Of course, bouzoukis and baglamas aren't necessary to convey "Greekness". But with their spacy melodies and club-friendly grooves, these tunes could have come from anywhere; this is a collection of fine, very British progressive house that happens to come from Greece. It will be interesting to see if future CDs in this series uncover any truly local sounds.