Various Artists

Layered Sounds, Vol. 2

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Like any good executive, John Digweed wants to show off his label's work. Making a coherent album that encompasses a catalog can sometimes be difficult, but when you're Digweed, and your label also happens to be the trance- and house-oriented Bedrock, which also counts you among its artists, suddenly producing and mixing the compilation becomes a lot easier. Besides original versions from some of the label's most popular artists (Yunus Guvenen, Luke Fair), Layered Sounds, Vol. 2 features exclusive and at times rare remixes of some of Bedrock's highlights from skilled DJs. This, in addition to Digweed's superior producing skills, makes for an excellent chillout record. Actually, to call the whole set chillout is unfair, since Layered Sounds, Vol. 2 is separated into two discs, the first one called Downbeat and the second Upbeat. True to their descriptions, disc one focuses on ambient synth sounds and echoing vocal tracks (an exception being the opener, "I'll Kill You," which features clear, clean singing from Jennifer Home), generally laying off the heavy drums, while disc two is full of thick, fast-moving rhythms ("Grayarea's Speakeasy Remix" of Bedrock's "Emerald" builds itself around a continuous sixteenth-note-based beat, which makes it pretty intense) and dancier chords. There are even a few happier pieces on the Upbeat disc, like Luke Fair's almost funky "Lokitas," which features a brittle-sounding guitar and warm synthesized organ tones, and Elite Force's "sK8r," with a woman yelling "yeah" over an African-inspired beat. Nothing seems out of place, however, because the entire album is produced very well: the songs are mixed perfectly together, elements of each of them seeping into their predecessors long before they are actually played outright. This means that most tracks end up being over five minutes long, which might be a problem for a punk record, but for a long Balearic night of progressive house, it's just right.

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