Danny Tenaglia

Global Underground: Athens

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Until Danny Tenaglia's first entry arrived in late 1999, the long-running Global Underground series suffered from homogeneity. All the featured DJs had been from the U.K. -- Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, John Digweed, Nick Warren -- and all spun, for the most part, progressive house and trance. This is precisely why Tenaglia's Athens album sounded so refreshing upon its release. Tenaglia was the first American DJ in the series and also the first to spin what is generally thought of as an American style, house and techno rather than progressive -- even if he seems to favor European producers like Thomas Krome, Jesper Dahlback, and Cari Lekebusch over their Chicago and Detroit contemporaries. In particular, the first set showcases precisely why Tenaglia is widely considered to be the best of the best and why he was the first American chosen for the series. The set drifts from one style to the next -- from minimal techno to house, back to minimal techno and then onto electro -- encompassing seemingly every style except progressive. You have to marvel at the way Tenaglia mixes these disparate styles so seamlessly together and throws in tracks like Miss Kitten's "Frank Sinatra" just for fun. However, the second set is a huge disappointment, especially following the eclectic and daring first set. Tenaglia starts off with Tilt's "Seduction of Orpheus" and never drifts too far from that song's ominous progressive motifs. The highlight of this second set comes when he drops his own "Music Is the Answer" halfway through the set before quickly moving back into dull progressive territory. Tenaglia's at his best when he's spinning like Tenaglia (an eclectic track selection and daring mixes) and not in the Euro style that's so synonymous with the Global Underground series (epic, lumbering progressive tracks that require little to no mixing). You get one disc of the former and one of the latter, making this somewhat of a frustrating listen -- it's satisfying but not as satisfying as it should be. Nonetheless, it's one of Tenaglia's better mix albums and surely one of the more interesting Global Underground entries.

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