VA: This is Sander Kleinenberg 2
Ultra Records

Delft-born DJ and producer Sander Kleinenberg separates his latest double-disc mix compilation into “left” and “right” halves, rather like how the two hemispheres of the brain are split. Certainly the discs are different in spirit, with the first half an almost perfectly-realized collection of highly melodic and funky house tracks and the second a more conventional set of peak-time tech-house jams.

The uplifting “left” disc is so satisfying, it should be used as an object of study by future mixers. A peaceful atmospheric setting (Sascha Funke's “Summer Rain”) offers a brief, beatless entry-point before Hamburg producer Martin Stimming enters with the jaunty lope of “Silver Surfer” (whose laid-back pulse is hardly in keeping with the titular comic book figure's light-speed movements through the skies). It's with the arrival of “Feuervogel,” a brilliant Stimming-Solomun co-production, that the mix really kicks into gear, however; the track is a marvel of construction and build, with a clockwork string melody carving a rising-and-falling path through a house-styled synthetic forest that grows progressively more dense, dramatic, and dynamic with each passing moment. Upon reaching its climax, a breakdown occurs, after which the track exits in a groove-driven flourish, ready to cede the spotlight to the hypnotic percolation of “Replika” by Berlin producer David Keno. With its epic sweep, “Feuervogel” acts as the key transition point for the first disc, with everything following it manifesting a similar level of intensity and groove, including H.O.S.H.'s spring-loaded take on Lucy's “Downstairs,” DaFunk's aptly-named “Smokin Hawt,” Kevin Yost's jacking mix of Phonique's “Teenage Love,” and Sultan and Ned Shepard's rendering of DBN's ecstatic “Asteroidz” featuring Matida. A major disc one highlight, Rainer Weichhold's terrific makeover of Rockers Hi-Fi's “Push Push” becomes an exercise in rapturous deep house swoon.

The “right” disc opens with a silly spoken word intro touching on the evils of drug use before Kleinenberg's own “This Is Our Night,” a pumping, vocal-based homage to club life, gets the mix on its way. The track also sets the tone for the second half's tech-house vibe which is darker, more driving, and earthier (e.g., Rene Amesz's tribal-funk banger “Ridicule”) than the first half. That shift into a standardized peaks-and-valleys mix mode makes for a less engaging though still scenic enough ride, with cuts such as Luetzenkirchen's “Foxy,” Dabruck & Klein's electro-jacking treatment of Joachim Garraud's “The Answer,” and Sean McCaff's steamy remix of Bit Crushers' “Time 2 Werk” standing out from the crowd. Dirty Flavor's electric remix of DJ Ortzy's “Massive” re-introduces the epic house blaze disc one so splendidly traffics in, as does Muzikjunki's “Please You,” especially when the track's burning groove is overlaid by Warren Morris's impassioned vocalizing . Even if the second half is ultimately slightly less satisfying than the first, the wide-ranging, 140-minute release still earns a strong endorsement for disc one alone.

November 2009