To say that John Digweed remains at the top of his game would be a proper understatement. What’s more accurate is that he resides firmly on the cutting edge of underground dance music, remains deeply devoted to his craft without any compromises, and continues to be one of the most sincere taste makers in the business. This has continued for upwards of 20 years, whether he has been spinning elbow to elbow with fellow world-beater Sasha or enjoying massive solo success on tour or in the studio. Let’s not forget his role as co-owner of the incomparable Bedrock Records, probably the most consistent underground label for the better part of the last 2 decades. If anything, the body of work with Bedrock is the greatest testament to his enduring tastes. John Digweed remains a force in the industry, the poster child of where a DJ can go without selling out. With a lengthy pedigree of sterling studio mix releases (he is often credited with popularizing the mix CD medium along with Sasha—see: Renaissance The Mix Collection Vol. 1), most recently with the two part Structures series, Digweed has decided to release live recordings to capture the experience of his performances in some of the world’s finest clubs.
First we had Live in Cordoba released 1 year ago, a deeper 2 disc mix taken from an early morning portion of his set at the open-air venue Tres Aguas in Cordoba, Argentia. Next was live in London, a massive 4 disc release featuring 5+ hours of Digweed spinning beginning to end at the Bedrock Anniversary Party held at Fire and Lightbox in London. Last week, we arrived at the latest entry: Live in Slovenia. This two disc mix was recorded at Ambasada Gavioli in Izola. As Digweed himself states, this is pure peak time heat; it begins with tech house and moves right into straight techno by the time we get to disc 2. While I appreciate both discs for what they are, I think of disc 1 as “classic” Digweed. Tracks like Mark Reeve-Move It, Dubspeeka-Bully, and Sam Paganini – Fire in my Arms echo the progressive house sound that he helped develop, but can no longer claim due “guilt by association” rule of Beatport genres. In modern terminology Digweed spins a blend of deep house, tech house, and techno while rarely exceeding 128 BPM. On average, the Slovenia discs clock in at 124-125 BPM, but manage to produce crushing results (in a good way) for the listener and club-goer alike. Here are my track highlights for Disc 1:
Disc 2 represents what I interpret as a slight departure from Digweed’s “proggy” comfort zone into the realm of straight techno, which in many respects is where the underground is headed currently. While I appreciate individual tracks on this disc (see: Daniel Gorziza-Drop That, Coyu- Long Time Awaited, and of course George FitzGerald- Every Inch (Deetron Remix) ), I’m not as pleased with the entire unit of thought as I was with Disc 1. Disc 2 does not stand up to some of the finer techno compilations out there when we look at it in context, but plays very well if you’re enjoying a night of Digweed in a sweet club or in any environment that allows for straight, punishing techno. Here are my track highlights for Disc 2:
John Digweed and especially Sasha were always very adept at creating a steady build throughout their sets and I think Live in Slovenia does well to produce this sort of thoughtful incline in club music, as it occurred during that particular moment in time. All around its very good stuff, and it should come as no surprise based on who’s behind the decks. Please support the artist and buy the compilation. If anything, do it so you can hear the full length mixes because these tracks are indeed better when the master craftsman is weaving them together. Hats off to John Digweed and Bedrock for another superb release.