EPs / Singles
Hernan Cattaneo: The Masters Series
Hernan Cattaneo celebrates the Renaissance imprint's twentieth anniversary with a marathon, two-disc set of mixes. The South American producer's seventh album for the label showcases his talent for skillfully blending multiple tracks into seamlessly flowing behemoths of eighty-minute durations. Though thirty-one cuts are listed (seventeen for disc one, fourteen for the second), it actually makes more sense to look upon the mixes as whole entities, given how fluidly the sets unfold, with the focus less on individual track details and more on each mix's subtle transformations. Characterizing them (as does the accompanying press text) as “dreamily imagined collages of sound” is very much on point.
Disc one opens in a somewhat surprisingly prog-inflected mode, its trance-like sheen buffeted by neon-lit synths and washes, before the beats shuffle into position and the material gains in heft and stature. Sparkling incandescently, the trippy trance vibe remains firmly in place as the mix moves through pieces by Guy J, Ripperton, Guy Gerber, Compuphonic, Mercurio, and Martin Garcia, at times goosed by an ear-catching theme and oft-powered by a heavy, bass-throbbing pulse. Deep house gradually enters the picture, and the material eventually grows funkier, too, as we move further into a mix whose chiming, synth-heavy sound is rich and epic, consistently maximal and multi-layered. Cattaneo also sets the BPM at a comfortable mid-tempo pitch, not so slow that it drags but not so fast that it feels frantic and leaves one breathless by the time the radiantly pulsating “Ventura” by Hal Incadenza (an alias of Spanish DJ Henry Saiz that's also a presumed reference to the Infinite Jest character Hal Incandenza) arrives to end the first half.
Cranking up the BPM and energy level for the second set, Cattaneo gets funky right away in opening the mix with scene-setting tracks by Underset, Slok, and Layo & Bushwacka (a driving Guy Gerber and Tennis remix of “Dancing in the Dark”) before moving onto Rodskeez, Ernest Luminor, Kieran J, and others. Though the feel is comparatively grittier, there's as much sparkle in the second half as in the first, with an entrancing female vocal leading the charge at the half-hour mark and the mix working its way up to a towering synthetic blaze forty-five minutes in. A jacking house swing settles into position to lead the mix home until its crests with the soaring dreampop of Fran Von Vie's “Wake Me Up When Everything Has Changed” and finally a Max Cooper remix of Agoria's euphoric “Panta Rei.” Hardly a wallflower, Cattaneo contributes seven of his own cuts to the collection (not to mention edits and remixes, too), three to disc one and four to disc two, with six of them credited to Hernan Cattaneo & Soundexile and one to Cattaneo & John Tonks. It's an immersive experience, to say the least, and a strong advertisement for Renaissance's electronic music brand.