Earlier this year, Sasha - arguably the original "superstar DJ" - made his live debut at the Barbican, delivering a set to an adoring crowd that blended his recent ambient and soundtrack-inspired work with new interpretations of classic, progressive house-era material. Refracted: Live documents that performance, offering a thoroughly atmospheric trip that gradually moves from chilly, synthesizer-heavy soundscapes and moody downtempo grooves to peak-time dancefloor debauchery. Along the way, there's plenty of impressive musicianship, a pleasing variety of synthesized drum patterns, spine-tingling moments aplenty and a healthy dose of soaring, progressive house style euphoria. Long-term fans will particularly relish the life-affirming re-makes of "Bellfunk" (his 1999 riff on Orbital's "Belfast"), 2002 single "Wavy Gravy" and all-time-classic "Xpander", which fittingly draws the album to a close.
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Sasha returned last year with an album of previously unheard ambient and IDM cuts recorded over the course of his lengthy career. Here, that set gets the remix treatment, with a mixture of scene stalwarts and rising stars behind the mixing desk. While there are some gentle dancefloor revisions - see Max Cooper's melodious and atmospheric tech-house interpretation of "Channel Deq" and Matthew Dear's hypnotic, late night take on "Pontiac" - many of the most rewarding and entertaining remixes are those that take a more horizontal approach. In this category, you'll find Sasha's own rising, near symphonic version of "Pontiac" and a stunning, standout mix of "Abacus" by Warp Records veterans Plaid.
Sasha went downbeat for his edition of the acclaimed chill out mix CD series Late Night Tales. Said to be influenced by the likes of Max Richter, Nils Frahm and Steve Reich, the release in its entirety was compiled with original recordings by Christopher Coe, said to be written as side projects to his em_fire and Last Night On Earth record labels where house and techno reign supreme. Two of the cuts appear here on Scene Delete Remixes 2, which follow up some great renditions by Kiasmos and Rival Consoles. Here the inimitable Max Cooper works his magic on "Channel Deq", creating a slow burning and brooding version with subtle dancefloor dynamics. On "Pontiac" it's over to the legendary Matthew Dear who faces off with his notorious Audion alias for a wonky and tripped out dancefloor menace that's just made for wiggin' out.
On Scene Delete, Sasha has decided to flip the script, jettisoning his usual progressive-leaning club fare in favour of original productions that wallow in their largely beatless, ambient nature. In some ways, it's a surprise move, but in others, it makes perfect sense; his DJ and production style has always emphasized atmosphere and texture, making it perfectly suited for the ambient genre. Musically, Scene Delete has some genuinely superb moments, with the obvious Eno, Yokota, Namlook and Reich influences joined by nods to obscure new age records, early synthesizer pioneers and, on a couple of occasions, the glitchy IDM of Autechre.
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