This chapter looks at my research into the third party compilations that helped influence and shape the overall construction of the remake.
If you have been following the chapters in turn so far then you will already know that I like to have a methodology as to why I do certain things, and this task was no different.
Although I class myself as a fairly competent DJ and trust my judgement in relation to set construction and mixing, I wanted to make sure my abilities were focused correctly for the remake and I believed the best way of going about this was to look at some relevant mix compilations and try and soak up some inspiration and discover what I could gain from them.
The whole point of this exercise was not to analyse the albums but to absorb them, experience the mixes and make myself aware, as linking in with the method mixing, I believe that by exposing yourself to the relevant inspiration, it stays with you almost subconsciously whilst you work and can have an effect on the overall result.
1. GLOBAL UNDERGROUND #007 PAUL OAKENFOLD IN NEW YORK
As explained earlier in the blog, this 1998 compilation was the inspiration for the creation of the Euphoria series, and as such, it was only natural that I wanted to experience the album for myself.
Almost immediately I could gather why this album was such an inspiration to the brand, the mix had a broad soundscape covering everything from laid back vocal house through progressive tribal, drum and bass, peak time trance and even chill out.
This variation helps give the album a distinctive mood, and one of the main points that struck me was how expressive and emotive the mix was, Oakenfold managed to blend the majestic with the melancholy, but yet still be able to keep an underpinning groove – something that was characteristic of ‘true’ trance music in the 1990s, and arguably something which the Euphoria series had always tried to acknowledge.
2. RENAISSANCE: THE MIX COLLECTION BY SASHA & JOHN DIGWEED
Released in 1994, The Mix Collection is regarded by many people as the greatest mix album of all time, and one of the very first commercially released albums to be DJ mixed.
Stepping aside from the reputation that precedes the album and the musicality of the mix itself, the focal point for my interest in the mix in terms of my project was that back in 2004, Renaissance decided to re-release the album as a ten year anniversary – remastered and updated by Sasha and John Digweed themselves.
It was the remastering process that had the most impact on my project, as although Sasha & Digweed were extremely talented DJs back in 1994, by 2004 they had both honed their art to almost indescribable levels, and in theory could have attempted something far more ambitious with the remake if they had so chosen, but aside from some record label politics, in reality they just took the original and gave it a fresh lick of paint.
As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, just because your capable of changing something does not necessarily mean you should.
3. GATECRASHER WET
Mixed by Scott Bond in the summer of 1999 (AKA ‘the summer of trance’) Gatecrasher Wet is very much a jewel in the crown of trance compilations and it’s respective fans regard the mix with as much reverence as progressive fans do ‘The Mix Collection’.
Although being the only album in the list released after the original Euphoria I decided it was important to experience the mix for not only the fact that the music included was very similar to what I was using on the remake, but also the programming and mixing were highly praised judging from the various reviews I had read over the past 10 years, so I figured I could learn a thing or two for my remake.
The main elements I picked up from the album were the obvious but often overlooked techniques of mixing tracks with similar elements, and using creative fades and equalisation – hardly a revelation to most of you, but it’s clear that understanding and mastering the basic fundamentals of DJ’ing can often create a far more effective set than reaching for any “party tricks”.
As a footnote here, if anyone has any evidence that Scott Bond mixed the album I’d love to see it as I scoured the packaging and discs of the album and could not find any mention of who actually mixed it.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Something I’m rather ashamed of admitting here is that prior to engaging in this project, I had never actually heard any of the albums listed above, and although embarrassing and refreshing in equal measures, there were a number of tracks included I’d heard for the very first time, classics that quite frankly will stay with me forever.
This exercise, despite being only a small drop in the ocean in relation to the project, stands as a testament of sorts that good music will always be good music. I may have heard some of these tracks up to 15 years too late, but despite their age they still managed to send the hairs on my neck wild upon first listen – and that to me, is the true acid test of the enduring spirit of the music.