Various Artists - Infinity +1, mixed by A-Trak
Fri 15th May, 2009 Music Reviewsin
Having stepped outside (and above) his status as Kanye West’s tour DJ, Canadian DJ/Producer and DMC wunderkid A-Trak is the man of the moment. But is he going to live up to his hype on this offering on the Onelove label? These were the questions I was asking as I unwrapped the CD from the shrinkwrap packaging.
At first I was really excited to get my hands on an A-Trak CD. His name comes with glowing recommendations – owner of indie/dance/electro label Fool’s Gold, DMC world-champion at age 15, brother of Dave from the funked-up electro outfit Chromeo, and Kayne West’s tour DJ of course. But as I listened, I had to admit it was going to take a few listens before I started to get with the groove on this album.
A-Trak starts off strong, with a short intro by John Dahlback, quickly segued into Party Machini by K.I.M. from The Presets, and then onto The Crow by Laurent Wolf before heading straight down the house expressway with a synth-laden track remixed of legendary house producer Farley Jackmaster Funk’s Love Can’t Turn Around by the masterful Lifelike.
By this stage my head was nodding in time to the beat and I was wondering what turn the mix was going to take. I wasn’t disappointed. With the next few tracks heading into what could easily be A-Trak’s trademark sound – hip hop vocals, bouncy electro and big bass lines aplenty – the mix was heating up quickly.
A-Traks clever re-working of the party anthem Bounce by the popular MSTRKRFT duo is one of the stand-out tracks, and it was well-placed alongside Party Works by Donnis and female rap artist Kid Sister completed a trio of hip-house cuts. But it was after this block that the mix started to lose momentum. Two minor key and introspective tracks followed and then a smattering of nu-disco tracks by the Bag Raiders, Holy Ghost! and a Joakim rework of DJ Mehdi’s beautiful ‘Pocket Piano’ brought the party vibe right down into a low key feel.
Perhaps my disappointment was because I had no idea that this mix would be dripping with early-80’s-reminiscent New Wave synth-pop and seminal Latin house. But don’t get me wrong, I do love disco and early house. I was just expecting a few more A-Trak remixes and less melody, more bounce and most of all, more fun on this mix.
Those criticisms aside, A-Trak has cleverly programmed a a mix that is complex, forward-thinking (while still giving a nod to the past) and really is the sound of ‘now’. On display is a great deal of musical knowledge in this compilation which demonstrates A-Trak’s maturity as an artist who has been in game for a while. Overall, it’s a well paced album and A-Trak makes good use of his turntable skills – cutting, sampling, scratching, back-spinning and braking his way through segues that are nicely placed and perfectly timed.
Infinity +1 is an album that requires more than one listen before the full impact can reach the listener. If there’s any recommendation to be given for a mix compilation, this is certainly one. In a market saturated with off-the-shelf, throwaway compilations, Infinity +1 certainly stands out as a release that will withstand the test of time and continue to provide listening enjoyment well beyond it’s shelf life.