Way Out West hero and DJ genius in his own right Nick Warren finally makes his mark on the inspiring Balance series – with a mix that exemplifies why he is revered by so many and furthers his reputation as a selector who truly understands the challenges and subtleties of a successful and enduring mix compilation.
Warren’s style is full of character, his sense of musicality stamped all over the mix, every track utilised and manipulated to its fullest to ensure that every last drop of juice is extracted from it. Just take a look at the succinct tracklisting; the polar opposite of say, Joris Voorn’s incredibly impressive Balance 014, it takes the converse approach and astounds in its own concise manner. Neither approach is “better”, but Warren certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to ‘less is more’. This approach has been galvanised by his dynamic new DJ set-up: “I jumped ship to Ableton and the APC40 Controller some time ago and really enjoy it. I can do edits and multiple mixes on the fly, which is great fun. But I also am using the CDJ2000s as well – they are fantastic.”
Name-checking the likes of Egbert, Victoria R, Applescal, Solee and Petar Dundov as current faves, it’s clear that his long-time melodic leanings have now been bolstered by a love of imaginative, new school techno, and indeed this compilation blends the two immaculately. “This album treads a techier and deeper path while sticking to my template of sourcing music from every corner of the globe, once more finding some new and exciting producers” he explains. His dedication to seeking out unknown beauties has always been part of what makes his sets so enigmatic, and even more so in these times when producers become overnight stars and are rarely shrouded in mystery or anonymity.
Disc 1 gets off to a graceful, deep start – a warm sunrise feel surrounding tracks like Underset’s delicate Berlin – before unexpectedly twisting into the jacking techno throb of Fiord’s The Tribe Has Spoken (soaring melodies intact mind you). Paul Hazendonk’s stripped-down My Addiction throws our attention before Eelke Kleijn’s Monkey Movin’ connects the dots and brings the groove back. The mix hops and skips between percussiveness and melodic flourishes at will, keeping you on your toes in anticipation of what’s to come next. Nick W’s TLB keeps it stab-heavy, before Nomad In The Dark’s Drones (Send Me) juxtaposes squelching funked-up bass with psy-trance-esque acid shimmers. Giorgos Gatzigristos’ Tickless brings the first half down to a sub-aquatic close, laden with hazy pads and hypnotic tones.
Warren’s own remix of Tripswitch’s Collider kicks off the second disc with nods to groove-driven, atmospheric ‘90s house music, all cool and slow-burning, and demonstrating he’s a producer to be reckoned with. Beat Factory’s Let’s Take A Walk takes the mix to sensual new heights with its soft, morphing chime refrain and gorgeous synths, with Lank’s Ain’t No Problem stating its intent next with a killer, shimmying groove that builds to incessant and heady heights. Yamil Colucci’s Bristol Warm makes for a resplendent centrepiece with its heavenly pianos and lashings of warmth, leading us towards the ethereal charms of Solee’s Aragon and the techy splash and buzzing refrains of Steve Mill’s Someday, with Solee reappearing to add a cinematic lift to the end of the mix in his remix of Warren’s Flowers. It’s left to Pablo Acenso’s pulsing Bread to cap a beautiful collection off with its bold, melancholy chords making for an engrossing and tantalising finale.
“It’s the coolest end of the compilation market and an honour for me to be involved” says Nick of the Balance oeuvre, and he’s done justice to this acclaimed series with a hype-free, creation that eschews transient trendiness in favour of refreshingly mature musical sophistication.
1. Ormatie – Only
2. Spieltape feat. Shamil – Morning Paper
3. Underset – Berlin
4. Fiord – The Tribe Has Spoken
5. Paul Hazendonk – My Addiction
6. Eelke Kleijn – Monkey Movin’
7. Jamie Anderson And Owain K – Without Sound
8. Nick Warren – Buenos Aires (Terry Lee Brown Jnr Mix)
9. Nomad in the Dark – Drones (Send me)
10. Franck Orff – Hibiscus
11. Giorgos Gatzigristos – Tickless
1. Tripswitch – Collider (Nick Warren Mix)
2. Julio Largente – Darkened Underpass
3. Beat Factory featuring Stamina – Let’s Take a Walk
4. Lank – Ain’t No Problem
5. Yamil Colucci – Bristol Warm
6. Victoria R – Cosmos
7. Solee – Aragorn
8. Steve Mill – Someday
9. Steven Libby – 80D
10. Nick Warren – Flowers (Solee Remix)
11. Pablo Acenso – Bread