March Madness Music Reviews
Wed. March 23, 2005 12:00 AM
by DJ Plez
Full-Length Compilation CDs
Live @ Roxy 4 – mixed by Peter Rauhofer (Star 69)
In what will probably be the last in the series, Rauhofer has hit an electronica home run with Live @ Roxy 4. This 2-CD set doesn’t just capture the essence of what he has been spinning in recent months during his former residency at the NYC’s superclub, Roxy, it is a creative tour de force that weaves funky electro stylings throughout tough, dark tribal tracks, especially on CD1. It is the sound that dominates Gotham during the peak hours and that will undoubtedly influence the rest of the country in the coming months. While the more accessible CD2 is stylistically consistent with the first disc, it has a bit slower groove that is extremely sexy and erotically captivating. All in all, Rauhofer vividly demonstrates that in an age where most peak hours DJs either only know faster and harder when it comes to song selection or deliver lowest common denominator tracks that pander to the masses, he has the skills, knowledge, sensibility, and confidence to challenge his dance floors as well as those listening to Live @ Roxy 4. It’s a welcomed challenge and all praise to Rauhofer for this effort.
Freedom - mixed by Manny Lehman (Tommy Boy)
Following the success of last year’s releases by Abel, Escape, and Tony Moran, Tommy Boy Records is on a roll as Freedom is another solid effort. This is a double-disc beat-mixed compilation from a member of the gay club/circuit DJing royalty that according to its marketing literature, “celebrates the accomplishments the gay community has made in its continuing battle for life, liberty and equality.” While individuals can judge for themselves its effectiveness as a celebratory vehicle, my evaluation of Freedom as a creative presentation is that it will truly delight those who prefer their dance music filled with high-energy tribal passion and a very limited number of true diva vocal tracks. CD1, the stronger of the two discs in my estimation, is subtitled “Big Room Session” and accordingly has more of a peak-hour flair to it. CD2 goes by the name of “Tribal Sessions.” It has more of an underground progressive feel to it, thus making it most appropriate as a follow-up after-hours mix to CD1.
Heartbeat Volume 2 – mixed by Julius Papp (Loveslap Recordings)
Ok, enough of the peak-hour big room warfare, it’s time to show some love to some deep house music and this new offering by Loveslap is just what is needed in everyone’s CD collections. Julius Papp has been at this game for more than 20 years and with this latest volume of Heartbeat he proves his mastery of all that is lush and soulful in the world of house music. This is a well-structured mix that starts out deliberately paced and slowly increases in groove intensity, perfect for warm-weathered late afternoons on a terrace or early evening cocktail hours in a lounge.
Artists’s Long Players
Free Yourself – Fantasia (J Records)
The machine that is “American Idol” just keeps on chugging away: the fourth season is currently in a full swing and the winner from the third season is out with a full-length album that’s tracking well and having an impact on more than just the pop charts. Free Yourself by Fantasia Barrino is a testament to the fact that despite winning a competition to find the next great pop music star, this daughter of the South is going to stick to her guns by showcasing her unique voice across a range of musical genres. Be it with R&B/soul tracks, commercial pop singles, or even standards from the American songbook, Fantasia attacks each offering on this CD with assured determination and a sense of ownership that you’d expect from a seasoned veteran, not from a newcomer to the largest of musical stages. Many predicted great things for this winner of Idol 3. With a start like this, Fantasia is well on her way to proving them right.
Hotel – Moby (V2 Records)
The much anticipated new effort by Moby has something for everyone; from old fans to the new ones who is sure to acquire. Hotel is an eclectic collection of tracks that spans genres to include electro-disco, ballads, ambient electronica, and big-chorus stadium anthems over the course of two discs. Demonstrating his immense musical ability, Moby has played almost all of the instruments on Hotel and sings on almost all of the tracks. Moby has proven to be a most interesting and creative artist since his 1991 debut album, Go, one of Rolling Stone magazine’s top 200 albums of all time. Some 14 years later with Hotel he clearly shows that as his artistry continues to evolve he is still able to connect with his audience and entertain us.
The “IT!” group at the moment within the GLBT community - Scissor Sisters - is out with remixes of “Filthy Gorgeous.” While the 12 inch remix is most likely to get club play as the DJ mines their electro fare, the other mixes are more interesting and exciting. The Paper Faces mixes have a smoother, groovier feel to them and the Martini Brothers Mix is a tremendous tech house effort which I will surely incorporate into the sets for my more sophisticated audiences.
For the second time in this article I bring up Loleatta Holloway’s name as there are new remixes to her classic “Stand Up.” Live Element has re-worked the original with some modern touches and a bit more of a darker chug to it that builds nicely to the break-out point where Ms. Holloway, too too happy to be with the man that she has, exclaims to the listener to “Stand up. Tell everybody I got him!” The Hott 22 remix is an interesting full-bodied general house mix infused with an incessant piano. Finally, there’s the jazzy Audiowhores Bootleg Edit and its dominating bass line for those who are looking for more of a deeper house vibe.
Proving again why they are one of the most interesting record labels around, Saw Recordings is offering up “Like This” by Matty Heilbronn. Yes, it seems strange that someone like Heilbronn would show up on Saw, but that’s what I mean by this label being the so damn interesting. On “Like This” Heilbronn presents a hybrid of tech house and progressive infused with a bouncy and soulful bongo percussive line. For those of us looking for blurred lines of demarcation in our dance music, this is s prime offering.
As for tracks you’re likely to hear on a weekend night during peak hours, Star 69 has enlisted Inaya Day to re-make Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl.” All of the mixes have a strong electro feel to them with the Peter Rauhofer Sleaze mix nicely blending in tribal beats for a wicked dance floor cut that’s plenty nasty for boyz and girlz alike.
Chicagoan Suzanne Palmer is back in our consciousness with “Home”, also out on Star 69. Both the Beat Hustlerz and Offer Nissim have mixes of this track, which in my opinion is even better than Palmer’s big hot last year: “Luv 2 Luv.”