Counterbalance Collection

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Using just five records to create an hour-long mix sounds like a bad idea. But not when the five records are produced by the U.K.'s leading hard techno engineer, Tony Childs. Utilizing every individual track on five releases from his own Balance label, Childs shows that he not only believes in never wasting a single vinyl groove, but that he possesses a style that is distinctly his own, yet complex and varied enough to create a mix with many subtle moods and emotions -- a usually impossible feat when a mix features only one label's catalog, let alone one artist's. Most listeners only get to hear Childs' music within a dense cauldron of other hard techno tracks. And yes, several of the cuts here are easily recognizable from other various DJ mixes. And while he has two excellent artist albums -- Force Vs. Form and ????? -- they are both tempered with his more experimental side, blending a few floor-filler cuts with sonic ambience tracks. Only in the unique format found on this CD does Childs' sheer dancefloor brilliance shine. The perfectly overdriven drum sounds are a given, a referential marker from Childs' youthful obsession with industrial antagonist Coil. And yes, he does have a fetish for the reverse bar that can become overused. But subtler sounds begin to peel through the layers, revealing a much broader palette of musical influences. A funky synth bass here, a jackin' acid house vocal stutter there. Even a slight Latin sequence at one point shows that Childs fully understands the archetypical components that make up dance music. Though intentionally abrasive on the surface, this disc is an unconventional idea that gives Childs' tracks the full spotlight, and they prove to be completely deserving.