Anjunadeep 04 - Mixed by James Grant and Jaytech
Tue 29th May, 2012 Music Reviewsin
Over the past few years, the Anjunadeep label has grown from an interesting and occasional offshoot of its big brother Anjunabeats, into a powerhouse melodic house label in its own right that has forged a unique sound built by a roster of globetrotting production whizz kids. At the helm is James Grant (brother to Above & Beyond’s Jono) and as the years have ticked by the Anjunadeep crew has become more confident creating and defining its own unique sound. The Anjunadeep compilation is the yearly chance check-in with the musical pulse of the label; where it has been and where it is going. As usual, Grant takes the helm of one disc while Australia’s own progressive house superhero Jaytech takes care of duties on the other.
The fourth instalment of the series allows each of the DJs to more comprehensively own one end of the Anjunadeep spectrum and James Grant seems to be taking the “deep” part of Anjunadeep more seriously than ever before. Grant’s disc opens with the distinctive sound of Dusky’s Stick To This: with layers of percussive energy and a menacing, yet restrained bassline that perfectly sets the tone for what is to come.
In the early part of the mix, Grant lays down a groove that is firmly reminiscent of the early days of house, with a palpable joy in big languishing bass lines, organic high hats and conscious nod to the deep house revival currently sweeping the clubs. The pairing of the whirling hypotonic vocals from Martin Roth’s Beautiful Life and the rolling bassline from Vincenzo (yes, the Vincenzo) are a paring of deep house bedfellows made to lie together. The tension builds even more through the quirky stylings of Maceo Plex’s take on Laura Jones’ Love in Me before the first moment of melodic release is delivered in the form of sublime strings and vocals of You, from Andrew Bayer.
It is when you get to Grant’s own collaborative remixes with Andrew Bayer that you really get the sense that he has a very specific journey in mind. They rework Above & Beyond’s tribal euphoric trancer into a pumping French-house groover by adding rich lashing of heavily filtered chords, chopped vocals and delicate piano. They then turn their attention to Full Tilt’s Take Me Away adding a deep house sensibility that it both surprising, and utterly captures the mood of the mix. By the time Soundprank’s take on Parker & Hanson’s classic tune Afterthough drops, Grant has somehow been able to twist together such a diverse array of house influences that you almost don’t realise that this is the first time you have heard something that sounds “progressive”. The last part of the disc delivers on the promise of the first, with a sublime progression of musical texture from P.O.S, Stephen J. Kroos and Answer42.
Overall, this disc is a winner that grows with each listen, offering something to prog heads who are happy to delve a little deeper, and to deep house aficionados who may be surprised by what they hear. In many ways it is almost an “ode to house” with its subtle nod to a diverse range of musical influences on the genre, and in turn on the Anjunadeep sound.
Jaytech kicks Disc 2 off into musical territory that was almost completely absent from Disc 1. The Lemon Effect from Answer42 is almost too cute with its bouncy, vibrant opening that perfectly sets the tone for what is to come. Suspect 44’s Neon Feel provides the first truly hand-in-the-air moment and set’s up the first of Jaytech’s own tracks, Synergy, easily one of his finest productions to date. Vadim Soloviev delivers one of the highlights of the mix with Forma Perpetua; a deceptively simple string hook that serves up the kind of melodic energy perfect for a big room. Yet efforts from Joonas Hahmo and Kobana seem strangely prog-by-numbers.
After the carefully crafted nuances of Grant’s disc, Jaytech’s effort almost feels too fluffy to cohabitate the CD case, despite it being truer to the Anjunadeep sound. While there are elements of colour among the parts, there is something a touch clinical about the whole. Perhaps it is the lack of vocals or not enough variation but Jaytech’s disc never really finds any of that intangible magic to separate this mix from any one of his excellent podcasts. Yet taken on its own it grows in stature with each listen and it’s frustrating likeability eventually proves impossible to ignore. It is just too easy to put this on before going out and getting your groove on.
So yet again, Anjunadeep has delivered a quality release. The label continues to go from strength to strength and this compilation is a mandatory for anyone even vaguely interested in the Ajunadeep sound.