I've been fortunate, to have had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few of the 'Balance' mix packages that have been released thus far and to say the very least, the quality control has not wavered one bit. And on this package, it would seem that the Balance team have upped their game a tad. Instead of preparing a traditional DJ mix for the regular series, they've instead chosen Guy J to curate the next entry into the ‘Presents’ offshoot, following its launch with jozif earlier this year.
For those who aren't acquainted with the man, or his body of work, Israel’s Guy J is one of the pioneers who helped bring the classic sounds of progressive house together with the cutting-edge aesthetics of modern techno. Growing up, he was immersed in Israel’s dance music culture, and a burgeoning scene that is known the world over for its epic parties. From its own Love Parade to major clubs and radio shows, the country has long been a bastion for underground electronic culture. “If you looked for it, it was right there” he recalls. But while the country was chiefly known as the world’s chief exporter of psy trance, Guy and his contemporaries have spearheaded an acclaimed new wave of Israeli house and techno music.
His work is always touched with a magic and emotion that very few rival. Never one to be pigeonholed, his portfolio is a diverse beast, with releases finding their way onto Tiga’s increasingly eclectic Turbo imprint amongst others. To feature on two labels that are essentially synonymous with two very different scenes is testament to his versatility, and above all, the quality and conviction of his productions.
Handpicked by John Digweed as one of the next-generation stars to be showcased on his Bedrock label, Guy J has been extraordinarily prolific in the studio; a fact that’s reflected in how he approached his entry into the Balance series. And what he’s unveiled for his fans is definitely a treat – a sumptuously programmed mix that’s comprised entirely of his own productions, remixes and edits. It blurs the line between artist album and mix compilation in the same fashion as Sasha’s Involver series. There's also a heavey 'Northen Exposure' influence about this mix, (minus the 100 minute breakdowns) that were so much a part of the whole 'Epic" and "Progressive" movement that swept the mid and late 90's. But do not make the mistake in thinking that this is a full-on onslaught on progressive house alone. It's much, much more. It's a diverse, luxurious journey.
Indeed, from the opening hypnotic opening vocal refrains of "No One Gets Left Behind" by DJ Yellow & Flowers and Sea Creatures into the deep progressive sweetness of 'Menthol Rage" by Roger Martinez & Secret Cinema, Guy J deftly weaves his subtle magic building and keeping a groove that pays tribute, not only to the classic essence of the old school but in many delicious ways, merging everything that makes this new wave of progressive's hybrid sound seem like the genre never left itself too far behind the massive steps that house and techno always seemed to take.
And once he gets past the funky inklings of Henry Saiz's " Santa Fe" he doesn't waste anytime in taking this mix up into more sensual, melodic dancefloor bliss. It's no wonder that, given the length and breadth of Guy J's deliverance here, that he's hot property on the international circuit today. Given also that many mixed compilations can tend to get too indulgent or at some points, too 'noodly' to some effect, this one just goes straight for the jugular, but keeps an entrancing pace and balance in its track selection and execution, as tracks like the Pezzner remix of Pavel Petrov's "Fever " re-edited, by Guy J himself, and weaved and layered with the a cappella of DJ T's "City Life" cause haunting hypnotic mayhem in the mix.
And as the mix chugs on, with Dactilar's "Day one", Echomen's "Perpetual" and the seminal "I'm your country" by Guy Mantzur, it's clear that this mix not on bears Guy J's 'John Hancock' but reflects the person that he describes himself to be and what makes him tick: “I’m very sensitive person, so I think what I make is what I feel at the moment I make it” he explains of the deeply emotional qualities of his music.
“I started as big fan of trance and progressive, and got exposed later on to techno and house/deep house. I’m trying to put all this together in my music; a bit of everything. The fact that Balance is a such a respected series is what made me want to create something that was a bit more timeless, so it’d be on the same level as their previous releases. I would have given my best regardless of the label, but knowing that it’s Balance meant I had a goal to reach for, and I believe it worked out for me."
Bringing the mix to it's climax with WOW's "Killa" and taking it down to scintillating depths with Robert Babicz's "Duba", right at the end, Guy J has delivered a mix that is diverse as it is euphoric and breathtaking and, one that flows immaculately from start to finish.
"I think today all the genres are mixed, and there’s not much point in putting yourself under any one sound. I'm just making house music, and I’m very influenced by progressive sounds, by trance at some points, so I like I mix all that together."
Guy J has weaved 80 minutes of music into what seems like only 10. Sounds like the end of a great night when you stand there and wonder as the house lights come on, "Now, where did all that time go?" Balance has delivered, yet again, a compilation that oozes quality. And just to add further to Guy J's accolade, there’s the small matter of a release on Cocoon, one of the most highly regarded labels in techno and beyond, and some exciting collaborations in the pipeline with some other inspiring artists. As always with this unique talent, it’s quality, not quantity. Each of his releases is met with a swell of anticipation, and for once in this often over-hyped world, it’s fully justified. Easily, for me, this is mix compilation of the month! Thank you Balance.
01. DJ Yellow & Flowers and Sea Creatures – No One Get Left Behind (Guy J Remix)
02. Roger Martinez & Secret Cinema – Menthol Raga (Guy J remix)
03. Henry Saiz featuring Fab Morvan – Santa Fe (Guy J Remix)
04. APM 001 – Migrants (Radio Slave Accapella) (Guy J Edit)
05. Juan Deminicis – Once upon a time (Guy J remix)
06. Navar – Phases Of Grief (Guy J remix)
07. Pavel Petrov – Fever (Pezzner mix)/DJ T Ft. Cari Golden – City Life (Accapella) (Guy J Edit)
08. Lanoiraude – Waitin’ (Charles Webster mix) (Guy J Edit)
09. Dactilar – Day one (Guy J remix)
10. Echomen – Perpetual (Guy J remix)
11. Guy Mantzur – I’m your country (Guy J remix)
12. WOW – Killa (Guy J Remix)
13. Robert Babicz – Duba (Guy J Remix)