I like Dave Seaman.
I liked his Renaissance mix from back in the day (’99) which introduced the stalwart nightclub’s mix series to American shores. It had a populist flair to it that made it both effective as a credible dance mix but also mixed in enough noticeable acts to both assure and expand the horizons of new converts. It was the people’s mix.
I liked his Back To Mine record, which is easily one of the best of the series, and a great after-hours mix in its own right. While most other artists were trying to one-up each other with their obscure and bizarre record collections thrown together in a kitchen sink-type fashion, Dave smartly decided “No thanks, I’m a DJ, so I’m actually going to put something together that’s a good mix.”
His Global Underground sets were of consistently high quality and impressed with both their diversity and groove. He managed to find a great balance between the popular styles of the day (trance, breaks and some unashamed deep house) and crafted something a little more “all things to all people” that still rocks my iPod years later.
So I guess all of this is part of the reason I was a little disappointed with his mixed bag of a latest release, This Is Audio Therapy. The 2-CD set is something of a five year anniversary celebration for his Audio Therapy label, and presents efforts from their roster of artists (including some unreleased cuts). There are both pluses and minuses to the set, so I’ll break them out accordingly.
First the criticism: Disc One is the mixed portion of the set, and it just doesn’t have a consistent flow. Part of this may be due to the nature of the release. As a label roster showcase, it has more the feel of a sampler than a cohesive listening experience. Styles and levels of intensity shift from track to track and rarely seem to find their flow. The tracks aren’t bad in and of themselves, and in fact moments of the mix threaten to break into a really nice prog house meets elctro groove. A couple of the less interesting tracks, namely Habersham’s “Dryspell” and Kosmas Epsilon’s “Ill Ssa”, are stuck at the beginning of the CD which doesn’t help get things off the ground in any manner of efficiency.
But there’s also quite a bit to like about the release, if you can get past all that. The opening track “Quiet” by Nick & John Dalagelis is a real gem, and sets the stage for what could have been a really impressive after-hours showing. It is a great breaks-meets-80′s new wave track. Likewise, “There Can Only Be One” is a nicely addictive progressive trance offering that I wish I had heard sooner. Overall the second half of the mixed CD seems to settle into a groove more than the first. It’s still not completely solid, but it’s not bad either.
I have nothing but praise for Disc Two, mainly for what it is: an unmixed selection of tracks from Disc One, as well as some other tracks from the label’s catalog. This is a grand move that I wish more dance labels would follow. As it has always been a very pricey affair to collect singles that are only released outside of full albums, this is a huge value-added component that might even make it worth the price of the release on its own. You can hear samples from most of the tracks on the label’s website, http://www.therapymusic.co.uk. Big kudos for CD 2 and let’s hope that more releases follow suit.
Overall, This Is Audio Therapy is not bad, but it’s not up to par for Dave Seaman. Stylistically it may throw some fans of previous mixes of his for a loop, so it would be recommended that you check out some audio samples before purchasing sight unseen. The set highlights some really nice tracks from the label’s catalog, and the unmixed disc alone could make for ample enough reason to check it out and sample some artists that might have passed by your notice.