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Mark KnightToolroom Knights 2xCD (Toolroom)(UK)

Probably one of the best mixes of the summer comes from one of the fastest rising stars in dance music — the Kent-based Mark Knight. The Toolroom Knights series has actually been pretty uneven up to this point and I’ve found myself more irritated by the obviousness of some of the programming like on the Gabriel & Dresden installment and the overkill bombast of others like Martin Ten Velden than the delight of the small smattering of actual Toolroom releases appearing in the series.

That has been one of the biggest problems in fact — the lack of the sanctioning label’s material on any of the mixes, which have, ironically, been consistently good. That problem is solved by having label owner Knight mix this installment, and hardly any new Toolroom release is unturned, giving this one a lot more life than any previous installment.

Disk one is tasteful progressive and tech house sprinkled with some faint, deep house vibes. There is some tribal rumble and a highly recommendable remix from Knight of Underworld‘s “Beautiful Burnout,” but disk one is fairly hard to distinguish from another superstar UK DJ named Nic Fanciulli, whose “Scratch & Sniff” makes a rather obvious appearance here.

Disk two is in essence a label showcase where the boss shows off his advances in what I am dubbing tech trance, a place where minimal and melody collide. The problem is that too many producers have been placing the emphasis more firmly on melody, and that’s been leading to this current resurrgence of trance — bad trance — this summer.

The good news is that some artists like Knight, Timmy Stewart, and Alexi Delano have been focusing more on rhythms and adding only hints of melody. The results sound an awful lot like Carl Craig, but isn’t that better than Tiesto anyways?

On disk two, Knight delivers a mix that is heavy on rhythm and a scaled-back selection of melodic passages. There are still some big-time Pete Tong moments, and I figure that’s to be expected on any commercial mix these days, but thankfully they are few and don’t ruin an otherwise fine new release.


J. Boogie’s Dubtronic Science: Soul Vibrations (OM Hip Hop)(US)

J. Boogie is arguably one of the San Francisco Bay area’s finest DJs. Skills aside, the guy knows no bounds when it comes to genres and has always focused on getting people dancing.

Too many jocks see barriers between house, disco, and hip hop, whereas J. Boogie only sees opportunities, and that’s part of what makes him so special. Recently, he has expanded his Dubtronic Science to a full six-piece band to play the lucrative festival circuits ala Spearhead or The Roots, and a lot of that jam-band grooviness is captured on the sophomore release, Soul Vibrations.

Here J. Boogie, the talented producer, takes that swingin’ organic rootsiness and pares it down with some gritty MPC studio funk and a lot of collabos from talented (and some well-known) West Coast MCs. I expected the results to be a lot more uneven, but here he applies the same principles he does as a DJ — keep it dancable so you can bob your head and keep the mood positive.

The collaborators are well selected, and J. Boogie does make a track tough when he needs to keep things from getting too fluffy. The new album really stretches the limits when it comes to the term hip hop as the album straddles many genres from latin to disco and hip hop to jam band, but J. Boogie once again proves why he’s one of the best in the game by always moving forward, keeping the productions tight, and ALWAYS having a track with a good beat so you can dance to it.