Richie Hawtin & Sven Väth
By breaking the mix-disc mold with last years DE9: Closer To The Edit, Richie Hawtin created one of the best mix discs that I'd heard in quite some time. In a world watered down with way too many Global Underground and Ministry of Sound 2CD blowouts (which frankly all pretty much sound the same to me), Hawtin was at least trying to do something different, and he succeeded in a big way, chopping up some wicked dark house tunes and spitting little bits of them out to create something new and ass-moving entirely.
In keeping with that notion of trying to inject some sort of different life into the now well over a decade old mix disc, he and Sven Väth have teamed up to bring down the house again with a 21-track mix of music from their Cocoon Club in Ibiza. Lest you think that it's going to sound like yet another of those aforementioned mix-in-a-can Ibiza discs that have flooded the market for so long, though, keep in mind that Hawtin has always been sort of a trailblazer, and even when he's not firing on all cylinders, he's still better than a majority of DJs out there. Although some of his recent material has been a bit lackluster, Sven Väth is also one that can be forgiven a bit, as two of his early releases (An Accident In Paradise and Harlequin: The Robot And The Ballet Dancer) still sound pretty darn good today.
I have to admit that one of the funniest things about this release to me was the simple fact that Hawtin has teamed up with Väth in the first place. I've always imagined Hawtin as sort of a stone-cold clinical artist, working in almost aseptic laboratory environments to create his releases, whereas Väth has been the guy with the goofy hair and crazy smile since day one. Seeing pictures of the two yucking it up on the pictures in the liner notes gave me a bit of a laugh, and as expected, the tunes on the disc are pretty damn flawless and again make me want to move my ass. Starting and ending with minimal atmospheric rumblers from Reinhard Voigt (brother of Wolfgang, aka Mike Ink, aka Gas), the disc spins through tracks by everyone from Dirty and Slam, to Legowelt and even one track by Väth himself (although Hawtin doesn't make an appearence anywhere, even as Plastikman).
The one issue I have with the disc is the one that the duo tried to use as a mood-setter. In trying to capture the feeling of their lives and a typical weekend at their club, the disc not only starts and ends with found-sound samples of conversation and people talking, but drops out several times during the course of the mix in order to interject mostly silly banter. At times (when it's crowd noise), it works to great effect, almost giving the disc a live feel, but at others (discussing afterhours parties and records) it sort of breaks the flow. It somewhat accomplishes the goal of making the listener feel more like a part of the whole process, but as the two talk about jetsetting and partying and generally living the life of superstar DJs, it's also a bit of a downer, especially if you're stuck somewhere cold for the winter. If you were at Ibiza and Cocoon, however, the disc captures the somewhat fleeting and frantic lifestyle pretty well, and the actual mix is pretty darn slamming when it hits stride. Now that he's had some fun, I hope Hawtin gets back to work on a new Plastikman disc, though...