DJ tapes were once the main way partiers listened to the music at home. Copyright crackdowns have stopped most DJs from selling their demos but haven't kept them from making them for promotional purposes. Here's a roundup of some of the better ones passed my way in the past few months.
deeno Spirit Sound Part 8 firstname.lastname@example.org. Rating: NNNNN
Deeno is Guelph's most visible cheerleader for deep house sounds. This mix starts off downtempo, then quickly gets going with Matthew Herbert's superb mix of Charles Webster's Ready. His mixing is very well executed: you don't hear many DJs playing melodic music and overlaying tracks this long or working the effects this much on a mix CD. He doesn't get up to house speed until five tracks in, at which point he drops some Moodymann and moves on through some Morgan Geist, hitting both the weird and techy as well as the soulful and jazzy sides of house. Deeno plays Friday (April 25) at Nasa as special guest at Ground Control.
Steve Yanko Audiomotion 01 email@example.com. Rating: NNNN
Steve Yanko is an up-and-coming Toronto house DJ who's released a few tracks on Play Records and is known for the Leisure events he throws with Mike Sitchon as well as the Love Unlimited disco parties. This mix starts out with an atmospheric electro-house cut remixed by Chicken Lips and stays in dirty, synth-driven house mode for a while. It's a quirky but definitely funky mix, and Yanko manages to work in tracks from artists as disparate as Mr. Scruff and Doc Martin, keeping it fun, weird and sexy. The mixing is quite good all the way through, and the acid/soul mix is refreshing and timely.
Telefunk Soundsystem Live At OM Festival 2002 firstname.lastname@example.org. Rating: NNNN
This one you can actually buy, since it's a live recording of live electronic three-piece Telefunk Soundsystem. The set starts with a long ambient section constructed of mangled samples from nature, various ethnic musics and synth drones. After a few minutes, chopped-up processed breakbeats bubble up from under the drones and big dubby bass pulses start throbbing. On paper, this doesn't sound that different from the rest of the ethno-electronica out there, but Telefunk's approach is much more experimental, and the ethnic samples get mangled until they become abstract synth noises instead of just token references. Watch for them at the OM Festival again this summer.
jojoflores Therapy Vol 17 email@example.com Rating: NNNN
Leading Montreal garage DJ jojoflores has set up a Toronto franchise of his Therapy parties, and they've been drawing consistently good-sized crowds. His CDs feature a mix of garage, deep house and Afro-Latin rhythms, mellow enough for home listening but bumpin' enough to rock a party. The tunes are very melodic for the most part, making the mixing secondary to the selection, but all the transitions are clean. This is a very vocal heavy mix, and although it features mainly new tracks, it has a very classic feel. You can catch the next Therapy party May 2 at the Mockingbird.
DJ#8, aka Brenner Made With Love Vol.3 firstname.lastname@example.org. Rating: NNNN
Brenner says this is more a home listening mix than what he'd play live. He's more upbeat when playing in a club, but very much along the same lines as this mix. Think Spiritual Life Records and Ibadan -- lots of deep live Afro-Latin percussion, live musicians and vocals, jazz- and house-influenced. Mixed well, but not too flashy; Brenner lets the songs speak for themselves. The only drawback is that he doesn't veer much from his chosen sound, so it can be a little repetitive if you're not into it.