John Digweed is a big DJ. Because of the abundance of breathless praise of his production and remixing skills, the jaundiced eye may take issue with his propensity to lure the wriggling masses of bunny-rabbits-for-a-night to their rapturous climaxes. However, despite a consistency of beat and tone that can border on relentless, Digweed's mastery of his machine and sonic vision hold promise for more-mature ears. Inspired by his five-and-a-half¯hour unrehearsed L.A. set last year, Global Underground: Los Angeles is Digweed's third turn at the wheels for the megamixed CD-compilation series. And once again he succeeds in taking his giant "progressive trance" robot on a supple and shaded journey.
As expected, Digweed programs his robot to "thump" the tunes at four times their normal bpm, then layers on warm filters and finishes, lending everything an analog-sounding smoothness by the time it reverbs down to the floor. With or without frequent cohort Sasha, Digweed has developed a distinct sound: warmly polished yet sparse and moody, with subterranean house beats supporting rolling trance buildups and echoing psychedelic effects. On the double disc G.U.:L.A., Digweed feeds his robot material that is often subtly infectious. The first CD eases out of the gate with Pole Folder & CP's "Apollo Vibes," in which contrasting layers of percussion and ominous public-address system warnings build tension. With one fell swoosh, Satoshi Tomiie's "Love in Traffic" takes over, lending a little Massive-like melancholy (ragged beats and soft, gauzed-over female vocals) followed by a stretch of dynamic stompers and Photek's ominous, slow-revving "Mine to Give." The last few tracks wander off into mildly pleasant-and-danceable land.
The second disc emerges a bit tepidly but becomes wholly satisfying by track three with the soulful vocal thrust of Medway's "My Release," which follows some bell-toned psy-trance effects into a swath of techno swirl. At first echo-laden and expansive, Way Out West's "The Fall" eventually kicks into overdrive. The tracks that follow chug along in tribal darkness until Aria's "One" lifts off into some classic stop-and-float buildup strategy.
As with most robots, Digweed's creation yearns for a solid sound system with lots of bass. While the android repeats himself at times, he's well designed for both the dance floor and the speaker on low in the corner. This is a polite robot -- inviting but not insisting that the listener dance.
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