Once again, the dynamic Balance compilation series adds a new chapter to its venerable catalog and impressive roster of alumni. For its 22nd edition , Glasgow native Lars Sandberg aka Funk D’Void aka Francois Dubois (his deep house alter ego) graces the decks for two highly distinct mixes. Like many mixes in the Balance series, the sound trends more to the visceral end of the spectrum throughout the two disc journey. Disc 1 gives a significant nod to Sandberg’s early influences in the form of early Detroit and Chicago sounds . Deep house and punchy techno are the flavors of the moment and the mix does what a proper, modern, deep house mix should in that it gives nods to a storied past and an exciting yet innovative present.
Disc 1 kicks off with a decidedly vintage Detroit vibe; the choice of a Monty Luke track (Yesterday & Today) for early on in the mix illustrates this perfectly. From here we enjoy what I feel to be 9 straight awesome tracks, mostly techno and tech-house by the Beatport definition. However, there is a significant, vintage deep house element that I detect in the beginning of disc 1 that exists as an intangible of sorts. With this in mind, it becomes even more exciting to listen to the continuous mix in order to appreciate how Funk D’Void makes sense of all of it. With Los Hermanos’ “Olmec My Brother”, Chris Malinchak’s “Razor 2.0”, and Peter Dildo’s “Lucky Punch” we have a strong acknowledgement of the early Chicago and Detroit sounds that were so important in shaping dance music into what it is today. It’s classic stuff that has fallen in and out of favor, but always seems to come back just as it’s doing right now. At this point we are ready for Funk D’Void to move into the contemporary realm of modern deep house and techno. From here the mix becomes one of extremes; we have the brutal, punishing techno manifested in tracks like Guy Andrews’ “Confuted” and Tonka “Orca (dub)”. All of this interspersed with more gentle commodities that we see in Exercise One & Mathew Jonson “Lost Forever In A Happy Crowd” and Mike Acetate “Elevate (Shur-I-Kan & Milton Jackson remix)”. Overall, disc 1 is equally effective for solitary listening and late night dancing. It covers so much ground.
You’ll find that for how danceable disc 1 is, it is only setting the stage for a decidedly more blissed-out disc 2. While this is not how I would have constructed the mix, I found the layout to be be extremely effective at espousing what is a traditional late night mood-swing; a stepping-down of intensity from beginning to end. Once I got a grasp on this, Balance 022 really took off for me. It moves from upbeat to dreamy and does so very effectively for the listener. Disc 2 isn’t as much about individual track highlights as it is a greater mood and taking stock of what we have just heard at 60,000 feet. Disc 2 certainly features more of Lars Sandberg’s “Francois Dubois” deep house sound with splashes of disco. In effect, this 2 disc mix allowed Sandberg to show off both of his distinct alter egos. I absolutely love Robert Babicz “Out Of Order (Rob Acid Version) that he drops near the end of Disc 2. It allows the mix to come full circle back to the vintage sounds that kicked things off. Love the TB-303 here, it’s not pounding acid house but it works perfectly as a means to tie things together on the more calm side of electronica. Great stuff from Robert Babicz.
I found myself comparing Balance 022 to John Digweed’s Stuctures 2 compilation (2011) [Bedrock] because both artists took a stab at incorporating a more blissed-out mix to pair with something more classic and dance-driven. With Balance 022 I think Funk D’Void completely nailed the shift from punchy to laid back that we see played out across two separate mixes. In the case of Structures 2 we have two very good mixes, but they are completely separate units of thought seemingly heaped together. I really appreciate how Funk D’Void executed this. Some have accused the stand-alone DJ mix of being a dying medium that has fallen especially flat in recent years. Specifically this has occurred because of how available and commonplace mixes have become on the internet with SoundCloud, podcasts, and other similar vehicles. The logic goes, that when we encounter a stand-alone mix release, we hope that is constructed with more thought and that it brings something unique apart from the spontaneity of a live set, or the routine nature of a podcast. The artist should communicate a message, a mood, or series of moods effectively and I think Funk D’Void accomplished that here. Overall, this is a great piece of music and a welcome addition to the ever-impressive Balance series.