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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/20/2012

Solomun Watergate 11

The best mix series are institutions. Like academies acknowledging talent within their field of focus, the top series in the DJ world—Fabric, DJ-KiCKs, and the like—serve as litmus tests for electronic-music talent you should take note of. Berlin's Watergate, like Fabric, has proven that it can translate its club appeal to a packaged product and that it knows how to cherry pick the right DJs to help with the job. Across its 11 releases, it has snagged some top-tier names in techy house, including Ellen Allien, Tiefshwarz, and, now, Diynamic label owner Solomun.

Meticulous in everything he sets his hand to, which includes heading up a club of his own, Solomun turns in a high-quality addition to the Watergate series. Playful, fine tuned, and funky in all the right ways, it's like a snapshot of hearing the Hamburg-based DJ spin live over the course of a night. Some DJs excel at nailing down a potent sound and staying the course for 60 minutes, but Solomun takes a slightly more eclectic approach, beginning with grooves that recall an old-school mixtape rather than a slick techno mix. Though slightly cliché, he samples the tuning of a radio dial as he leads off, before dropping a few feel-good boogie cuts. Rollerskating jams like "Don't Mess With My Man" from '90s soul supergroup Lucy Pearl and even Solomun's own "Kackvogel" set a pace that, in a club, would loosen up feet for the dancefloor rather than command their attention.

Peppering the front end of the mix with somewhat superfluous sound snippets—a tactic that eventually seems to be forgotten about and disappears in the latter half of the mix—the Diynamic man keeps the disco vibe rolling with beefier and faithful recreations, including two tracks from analog-loving Frenchman Guillaume Atlan. The second, "Family Business," recalls mirror-ball sheen as much as it does the funk-rap of "Double Dutch Bus" and diva pop-house from 1995. It's an infectious groove that he smartly allows to run for almost its entire length.

Catching up to the present day, the next string of tracks settles into Eskimo Recordings territory. Towing a line similar to that of Aeroplane, there's the Kraftwerkian electro-funk of Endless Street's "Superfunk," Vindhal's "Sometimes," which sounds like a collabo between Pharrell and Chromeo, and, moving things deeper, Solomun's edit of Low Motion Disco's "Love Love Love."

If the live comparison is to hold, this point in the mix is about the time when the floor would have reached late-night hypnotism, an effect buoyed by techier, but no less blissful, turns from Mathew Jonson and Sascha Funke. If you find yourself zoning out, a curveball comes in the form of throwback gem "Allright," a deep album cut from Dax Riders' 2005 LP Hot, before Sergio Santiago's Italo-techno roller "Atto D'Amore" marks the mix's pinnacle. All mechanical loops and over-the-top, soaring synths, this track can do no less than cause mayhem on a proper system. Now set to the task of letting things ratchet down smoothly, Solomun injects some soul back into the proceedings with Casino Time's "That's the Truth" and former Wighnomy Brother Robag Wruhme's minimal jazz dance "Draw Halcyon Days." Breaking the tempo for an encore, the fearless selector closes with the soulful chillout of "Give It Back" from Naked Music vet Gaelle.

Electronic music has a tendency to be defined by its proximity the cutting edge, creating new scenes with each subgenre and quickly losing interest with the one that came before. As a DJ and club owner, Solomun uses his installment in the Watergate series to remind us that just because a track is a few years old, that doesn't mean it's obsolete. Much of the music here is from the '90s and the early 2000s and still sounds as fresh, potent, and hip as it did when it was hot off the vinyl presses. Don't be surprised if you find yourself scouring your prefered music retail outlet for a few of the songs featured here by the time the last song fades out.

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