Alex Niggemann - "Balance" (Mixed By Alex Niggemann/continuous mix) - (1:16:30) 124 BPM
Review: From his native Dusseldorf to his adopted home of Berlin, Alex Niggemann's name is synonymous with the German tech house sound and appearances on a who's who of labels in recent years. From Poker Flat, Last Night On Earth and Tsuba to his own respected Aeon and Soulfooled imprints, he has shown his knack for deep and sexy grooves and his last eight years of DJing and studio prowess is on display for the latest edition of Australia's Balance series of mix compilations. The programming on Balance runs the gamut from deep, dark journey tracks (Gui Boratto "Joker" (Dave DK mix)"/Baikal - "Pelican's Flight"), dreamy hypnotism (Aril Brikha/Sebastian Mullaert - "Illuminate"/Antigone "Blue Note") and some new exclusives from the man himself, such as the mighty slow burner "Divergent". As always, there's a bonus track featuring all the aforementioned on a continuous mix.
Review: At first listen, Abaporu sounds decidedly underwhelming. This album after all, is from the same artist who created the dreamy indie-techno of "Beautiful Life". However, it gradually emerges that the Brazilian artist has merely opted for a more subtle approach. Granted, "Antropofagia" is leaner and meaner than most of his club tracks, while the titles track also favours a stripped back, banging approach. Like his previous albums, Boratto can't resist a good melody or the temptation to work in some rich guitar chords. Take one listen to the sassy party house of "Get The Party Started" and the shimmering guitars and keyboards of "Where I Belong" if you're in any doubt of his talents.
Review: "Joker" was undeniably one of the strongest cuts from Gui Boratto's recent Abaporu full length, his fourth for long serving Cologne giants Kompakt. It's pleasing, then, to find it getting a deserved single release. The original - a breakdown-heavy chunk of progressive techno blessed with darting synthesizer arpeggios and tumbling pianos - is remixed by Dave DK and Michael Mayer. The former delivers a deeper, more atmospheric version, bristling with sinewy strings, woozy chords and sparse, bongo-laden percussion. It's Mayer's remix that hits home hardest, though. The Kompakt bossman reinvents the track as a chunky slab of wide-eyed rave revivalism, with Boratto's pianos and arpeggios riding a thrilling new bassline and cut-up electronics.
Review: Regular roamer around the Kompakt savannah Gui Boratto drops some more of that upfront tech-house business, rendered crisp and punchy by the lofty production values and hitting all the right buttons for a release that is likely to rock many a sizable crowd. "Too Late" is a slow burning number with a throbbing electro bassline and female vocal hooks, ably slipping into more techy terrain where needed but always shot through with a poppy sensibility. "We Can Go" again brings a touch of pop to proceedings but more in an '80s new wave vein, with the ominous vocals and dark synth lines working wonders on creating an edgy atmosphere.
Review: Call it Latin spirit or put it down to his special talent, but there is no doubt that Gui Borratto has a knack for crafting irresistible, melodic dance music. The Brazilian producer's own 2012 version of "End" is a seductive affair, with the effortlessly sexy, drawling female vocal unfolding over an alluring live bassline. It sounds like what would have happened if My Bloody Valentine had ditched their guitars after Glider and gorged themselves on pure MDMA. Kompakt boss Michael Mayer's version is a pure club affair, with the melodies unfolding over a typical Cologne shuffle. Ame push the boat out with their 10-minute version ambling through a stop-start rhythm.
Review: Few dance producers do melodies like Brazilian Gui Borratto, and these versions of Paralelo are in keeping with his uplifting approach . The Solee remix sees spacey, breathy chords build over a splurging acid bass and the includion of a spacey filter means that it strikes a perfect balance between depth, trippiness and dance floor appeal. The Oliver Schories version is more upfront, with its hissing percussion and nagging bass creating a darker mood, which is in turn augmented by chilling strings. Finally, the Boss Axis version sees a return of sorts to Borratto's melodic sound, as chiming bells and a surging, humming bass compete for the listener's attention.
Review: As far as album titles go, III isn't imaginative, but it is Boratto's most diverse album. There are still traces of the Brazilian producer's sound of yore, especially on "Stems From Hell", where a mournful melody is expertly teased and played out over a minimal groove or on the grainy, fist-pumping bassline of "The Drill". For the most part though, it marks a departure for him. "Galuchat" is an excellent low-slung, atmospheric house track, "The Third" sounds like his attempt to make an ambient lullaby and at the other end of the emotional spectrum is "Striker" a Gothic, rumbling bass workout. Best of all though is album closer "This Is Not The End": featuring Luciana Villanova on vocals, it's a beautiful indie song -surely it'll guarantee Boratto his deserved place in the pop charts?
Review: Pentagram is Boratto's first album in four years, but it sounds like his time has been well spent. Expertly produced and crafted, it is also the Brazilian producer's most diverse release. It moves in style from the low slung electronic disco of "The Walker" into the live drums and guitar of "The Black Bookshelf" and the smart dance pop of "Overload", which features Luciana Villanova on vocals. Of course these could all be signs that Boratto has grown up and got serious - after all '"Forgotten" sounds like an adept take on punk funk and he veers into neo-classical on the sweeping strings and keys of "Scene 2". However, this album demonstrates that he is still capable of delivering the kind of spine tingling trance he made his name with, as the hands in the air trance-techno of "Alcazar" so effortlessly reminds us.