Various Artists
Bis Neunzehn
Areal
2004
B



loosely part of the Kompakt axis: creates German house, has had tracks on Kompakt mixes, is mind-blowingly consistent, the Areal label has made a name for itself solely on the basis of vinyl 12" releases and one mix CD. The mix CD, entitled Bis Neun, used as source material the first nine releases of the label to highlight the particular brand of house—very similar to Kompakt, but perhaps more retro-based, considering their more overt use of synthesizers—that the label's artists were investigating. Bis Neunzehn, in a similar fashion to the former disc, takes the next ten releases as fodder for Jan-Eric Kaiser's mixing abilities.

Kaiser starts slowly, with label co-founder Konfekt's "Mentt(ambis)" creating a static and somewhat inconsequential introduction the album. Despite this, Remute's "Expired" kicks thing off properly soon thereafter, launching the mix proper in epic style. The song is definitive Areal material, melding a soft house beat with a lovely chord sequence providing the base upon which a variety of sonic detail is placed. This pattern is continued into the next track with Ada's "Blindhouse".

Between these two tracks, the beat remains relatively soft, never pounding its way into club territory, necessarily, but insistent nonetheless. This changes with Basteroid's "Sympathy for Disruption", which signals the meat of the mix. The next three tracks work as one, each equally as dense and massive as the other. This is the style favored by Areal's other half—Ada and Remute usually favor negative space within their compositions, while Basteroid and Konfekt rarely shy away from a Basement Jaxx-esque space-filling maximalism.

From here, the mix winds down slowly using, once again, a collection of Ada tracks, among Undo/Redo compositions. The final highlight is "…And More" which contains perhaps the finest breakdown of the disc, utilizing bleeps and bloops intercut with sumptuous vocals to hypnotic effect.

Overall, Kaiser's command of the Areal catalogue is a masterful one, only breaking the mix after its proper beginning to introduce the final two selections. Special merit, of course, considering he was faced with the prospect of putting this together with only ten options available to him. As such, despite the inherent limitations of the exercise, the Areal catalogue announces itself as the winner here: any mix CD operating under these circumstances that sounds as varied and as forward-thinking as this points towards a label that is exactly the same.



Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-04-26
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