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Überzone: The Digital Mix

Jason Thompson


The Digital Mix

Label: Moonshine

OK, I have come to the conclusion that I've just become too old to enjoy these types of albums. Not dance music as a whole, mind you, but the product known as the DJ mix disc. This was the kind of thing I used to thrive on in the early '90s, back when I was hitting the dance floors four nights a week, but times change, music changes, and 10 years later, so does your taste. Well, at least mine seems to have done so. Give me a singularly great dance song any day, such as "I'm in Heaven" by Jason Nevins, with its solid beat, retro-house flourishes, and tasty vocals by Holly -- that I'll gladly enjoy. The Digital Mix, on the other hand, took too much of my patience to enjoy. If listening to a disc becomes akin to watching a bad movie and has me checking my watch to see what time it's going to be over, then forget it.

What lured me to this release was the fact that it's on the Moonshine label, which has honestly been one of the best through the years for releasing some damn fine techno and mix discs. There have been other labels, most notoriously Antler-Subway, that would feature discs by one artist (say, Fatboy Slim, before he became known as such but was working under other names) that had tracks listed under all their different monikers. Fine, but why not just do what Moonshine often did and make a Journeys By DJ disc out of the thing, instead of offering the tracks up as a multi-artist charade? Confusing. But then, to most folks, sifting through the techno section of the favorite music store can often be a daunting task. Who is worthy of hearing, and which sub-genre suits the individual's taste? Often, the whole thing can be a giant crap shoot, as favorite artists can often dump out a completely horrible album. Such is the way with the DJ mix disc.

Überzone decided to go a different route for The Digital Mix. Rather than rely strictly on two turntables and a mixer, all sorts of computers and electronic gadgets were brought in to assist (hence, the "digital mix"). Songs were chopped up, re-edited, and remixed to match up and fit the flow. A daunting task to be sure, and one that I suppose should be praise-worthy if the end result was something truly exciting. But in this case it isn't. It flows fine. There are no lousy jumps between tracks and Überzone pretty much lays the tracks out as they are without messing with them too much, but it's just the flat song selection here that makes things sound rather monotonous.

Überzone throws in the self-penned "Snizl", "Science" (featuring Simply Jeff), "Kung Fu", "Couscous" (with Rennie Pilgrem), Trapezoid", "Moondust (Dark Side of the Moon Mix)", and "The Freaks (Special Mix)". Some of these have become club favorites, and certainly using a lot of originals here helps make the whole digital re-working project that much more of a technical success, but all too often the Überzone tracks sound too similar. Those who are new to the genre and looking for any familiar names will have to make do with the Crystal Method's appearance with "You Know It's Hard (Koma & Bones Mix)". Otherwise, the rest is padded out with such fare as E.K.'s "Watch Dis", Forme's "Kick A Hole", and Koma & Bones' "Powercut (Rewired Mix)".

The Digital Mix isn't a complete loss, but it's hardly the rave-up other publications have allotted it. There's nothing fantastic about the song selection, and for all its technological hoo-ha in the creation of the mix, it isn't so amazing that it merits some special award for its proficiency. After listening to this, I'd be just as happy sticking with those two turntables and a microphone. Good beats do not always make the album. The Digital Mix proves this with stunning accuracy.

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