2010 In Review: Where to for the mix-CD?
Thu 16th Dec, 2010 Features 1328 viewsin
Another series that can notch up 2010 as a peak year despite significant upsets is Fabric/FabricLive. Those iconic tin cases have been part of the club’s identity since 2001, and unlike the criticisms levelled at Renaissance, its musical scope continues to widen. In June of this year, it looked as if the expensive death of Fabric’s new venture Matter could cause woes for the monthly mixes. Crisis, again, was averted, and the year will be remembered for towering efforts from Optimo, Zero T, Shackleton, Surgeon and dBridge & Instra:mental.
“We believe there is still value in the conventional mix-CD,” says Geoff Muncey, label manager for Fabric. “The mixes are unique and capture the essence of the DJ. We encourage the DJs to use exclusives – their own or others – so there is music that can’t be accessed from anywhere else.”
That exclusivity is often quoted as what sets mix-CDs apart from a podcast or a dubiously-titled file online. Kompakt figurehead Michael Mayer – whose Immer mix-CD from 2002 has entered the annals as a classic – puts it in no uncertain terms. “My memories of preparing Immer 3 are still quite fresh so I can clearly say: I wouldn’t have worked this hard on a podcast.”
With Balance’s ‘trust the DJ’ philosophy having paid dividends, Pandzic echoes Mayer’s sentiment. “I think the energy spent and the amount of thought that goes into compiling these mixes surpasses the effort of putting a mix together for a podcast,” he says. “These artists spend, months, days and hours researching and selecting the best music possible to include in their mix, which is why a commercially released CD will always hold more value over the other medium, and ultimately, it’s a tangible asset.”
While the likes of Joris Voorn’s Balance 014 are a reminder that mix-CDs can shift the landscape with technical wizardry, a more traditional approach still reaps rewards. Keeping on the theme of Balance, James Holden’s edition stands a masterpiece of track selection and programming. “It was definitely a ground-breaking release in 2003 and had a major impact on electronic music during that period,” Pandzic agrees. “It introduced everyone to a fresh new sound, which was much more interesting and emotional than the plethora of ‘progressive’ tagged music that was being released around that time.”
Returning to 2010, there’s still a strong case for ‘conventional’ compilations. Here in Australia, one of the leading proponents of mix-CDs is Onelove Recordings, and its label rep Matt Nugent presents a case for putting the music first. “I think there are definitely technically minded people who want more than just a standard DJ mix; they want heaps of effects, mash-ups or track re-creation and remixing like Sasha did with the Involver series,” he says.
“That’s not everyone though. At the end of the day the majority of people still want to hear a selection of good music; that’s why DJs like Sven Väth are as popular as they are. Sven plays records – not CDs, no Traktor or Ableton – and plays them all well. Some of the best mixed CDs ever released were done live on turntables; needle jumps and all. I think the music needs to be the most important factor and the technological enhancements an added bonus.”