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A Return To Sasha and Digweed’s Renaissance

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10 years ago 2 immense DJ talents met at the club named Renaissance in England. These DJs, Sasha and John Digweed, soon formed an alliance referred to as “Northern Exposure” which heralded the beginning of the era of the superstar DJ.

Among the innovations of the pair was the release of the first gold-selling DJ mix CD in the U.K.’s history. DJ mix CDs have since become ubiquitous in dance music, but Sasha and Digweed began the trend with their set, titled simply Renaissance after the famed club. Now, 10 years later, the mix set often referred to as one of the greatest dance albums ever recorded, has been re-released with a remastered, cleaned up, tightened mix in lush packaging to be adored all over again.

Renaissance is spread over three discs. While the overall sound is best described as being part of the era in which traditional house was wedded to anthemic trance, there is a great deal of variety to be found here. The individual discs themselves create a seamless progression through an evening club set. The first disc provides an anthemic introduction drawing in dancers while the second disc carries the heaviest beats of the night, and the third disc provides a variety of stylistic flourishes before winding down.

Among the highlights of the set are the blend of three mixes of Leftfield’s seminal “Song Of Life” that kick off the entire collection, Kym Mazelle’s deeply soulful house vocals on “Was That All It Was,” and the gorgeous Balearic sunrise in the midst of EMF’s “They’re Here.”

Other stellar dance tracks of the period are mixed in as well. Moby’s “Go,” minus the “Twin Peaks” chords, is here. Other memorable tracks from Fluke and Sunscreem as well as an amalgamation of Inner City’s classic “Till We Meet Again” with Vangelis’ music for Bladerunner are included. All are given a flawless technological update by Sasha and Digweed making this release of the set cleaner and more seamless than the decade-old original.

In the wake of the success of Sasha and Digweed’s Renaissance mix, DJ mix collections quickly became a core part of the dance music market. Sasha and Digweed moved on to record as Northern Exposure and then share a high-profile monthly residency at Twilo in New York in the late 90s. They gained much of their fame helping push trance into the dance mainstream, but they have each significantly diversified their output since.

Sasha and Digweed’s Renaissance is both a souvenir of a key moment in time in the development of dance music and a pleasure-filled evening of listening and dancing. If you don’t already own this collection, it is a must and a necessary cornerstone of any collection of contemporary dance music. If you do already own the collection, consider purchasing the new release simply because the better sound works well with today’s clean, digitally-enhanced club mixing. This three-disc set should be on your shelf.

Currently available as an import, the set will be available in the U.S. January 25, 2005.

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About Bill Lamb