John Digweed

Global Underground: Los Angeles

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For John Digweed's third installment in the popular Global Underground series, the superstar DJ tones down his track selection a bit, focusing less on theatrical hands-in-the-air moments and more on subtle yet highly nuanced rhythm-driven tracks. Truthfully, it's quite difficult to pick out any "peak" moments, or any clear-cut anthems in the mix. From beginning to end, Digweed spins nothing but darkness-exuding records that inspire intoxicating abandonment. The music's sublime employment of enthralling mesmerization never gets too intense or dramatic, simmering steadily at ethereal levels of emotion rather than euphoric heights. This restraint is indeed welcome. After his late-'90s run as one of progressive trance's leading spokespersons (best exemplified by his anthem of anthems, "Heaven Scent"), a backlash was surely mounting. Thankfully, this album's snubbing move away from progressive trance perhaps signals a new direction for the DJ -- and maybe even for the trance movement in general. Nearly every track here employs a progressive house structure -- booming 4/4 bass beats, high-hat fills, near-hypnotic rhythm, zero snare rolls -- and most accentuate this foundation with an ever-phasing, glossy layer of subtle synth washes that hark back to the classic, early-'90s trance era when trance was truly trance-inducing. Throughout the first set, Digweed focuses more on the house aesthetic, emphasizing Satoshi Tomiie's work; the second set, as expected, heads into more heady territory, as proven producers such as Breeder and Cass get emphasized, along with a number of Bedrock records. Those weaned on late-'90s Oakenfold-esque progressive trance may find this album uneventful, yet anyone looking for a mix that trims away theatrical gaudiness and focuses instead strictly on rhythm, nuance, and sublime poetics should find this Digweed's most rewarding release to date -- it's surely his most restrained and least saccharine so far.

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