VA: Ibiza – The Sound Of Renaissance Vol. 4

Having been so impressed by recent Renaissance volumes from Hernán Cattáneo (Renaissance Presents: Sequential, Vol. 2) and Satoshi Tomiie (Renaissance: The Masters Series Part 9), I had high hopes for the fourth installment in the label's Ibiza series. Alas, the release, a two-disc collection split between Pete Gooding (‘Beach') and Marcus James (‘Club'), doesn't match the quality level of its precursors, as a surplus of mediocre moments in the first half drags the collection down.

Pete Gooding's ‘Beach' disc starts promisingly enough with Trentemøller's dreamy “Miss You” and Swayzak's sexy handling of Quark's “Acoustiques Paralleles” but the set's gradually weakened by banal tracks that evoke the generic playing of a cruise ship house band. Presumably, the ‘beach' theme is intended to evoke relaxed splendor but too often the material resembles background patio lounge music. “And Justice for All,” for instance, by Ashley Beedle Presents The London Heavy Disco Revue is little better than watered-down funk-fusion for the masses, and Thievery Corporation's “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” traffics in the by-now tired combination of Indian singing and dance beats. Elsewhere, there's generic funk-house and an unconvincing strings-acid-electro fusion that doesn't quite gel. The disc is redeemed by a small number of strong pieces, including the Run Jeremy Band remix of Blue Foundation's “As I Moved On” which nicely couples a strutting, synth-heavy groove with an appealing female vocal. The Rodriguez Junior mix of Alexkid's “Nightshade” is delicious too, especially when sweetened by Liset Alea's lovely vocal turn, and the vocal hooks in Mighty Math's “Experimental Child” (Swayzak-Not-Swayzak Mix) and Nathan Fake's animated synth paradise “Stops” are hard to resist.

Thankfully, Marcus James' blazing second half almost—almost—enables one to overlook disc one's missteps. The grooving electro-swing of Partial Arts' “Trauermusik” opens the ‘Club' set in fine form, and there's no shortage of peak moments thereafter. Jimpster's crisp remix of Joey Negro Pres. Akabu's “I'm Not Afraid of the Future” swings beautifully, Carl Craig gives Faze Action's “In the Trees” a blazing boost, and Jim Rivers does the same to Nic Fanciulli's “Cat Out of the Bag” and Blue Foundation's “Sweep.” The mix also includes soulful dub-house (Markus Enochson's “For You To See”) and steaming electro-house bangers (Is This 002's “Track E - Is This A Label,” Solaris Heights ' “No Trace,” Solar's “Low Enhance”). In short, there's a marked contrast between the two halves, and not just on stylistic grounds only.

August 2007