Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: James Zabiela, Renaissance The Masters Series – Life

The Masters Series is yet another series of DJ mixes from the UK club/record label Renaissance.  James Zabiela is a UK DJ who first came to prominence in 2000 when he won a contest for home grown DJs run by Muzik Magazine.  Life is his second mix in the Renaissance Masters Series; a review of his previous mix can be found here.

Zabiela first attracted attention as a DJ who was both skilled with turntables and oriented toward the breakbeat sub-genre of electronic dance music.  Breakbeat tends to shift away from the heavy emphasis on an unvarying 4/4 rhythm that characterizes much House music and focuses on more complex rhythms and counterpoint, syncopation and polyrhythms.  Zabiela’s interest in breakbeat can be heard to great effect on Renaissance The Masters Series – Life.

There’s good news and bad news about this mix.  The bad news is that the music is occasionally interrupted  by some guy making portentous pronouncements about life and the meaning of it all – or something.  Whatever.  It’s shallow and pompous to the point of making you cringe every time he opens his mouth.  If you’re in a state of glucose deprivation from a night of serious dancing, are several hours into a thoughtlessly mixed drug cocktail, and are old enough to think you have attained some insight into the world and young enough to not know that you really haven’t, these pronouncements might sound insightful. if not they’re just embarrassingly juvenile.  It’s hard to believe somebody somewhere along the line didn’t say “Uhh, wait a minute, let’s rethink these voice overs” during the production of this mix.  They’re there, they’re inane, they’re brief; you just have to live with it.

The good news is that the music is terrific.  Zabiela starts very mellow and slowly builds in complexity.  However, he almost always chooses interesting music so that even the most laid back parts of these mixes – and they can be very laid back – are always enjoyable and intriguing.  Zabiela both sequences music and transitions between tracks very well which gives these mixes a feeling of coherence.  This sense of unity is bolstered by his heavy reliance on techno-oriented house music which ties the mix together on a timbral level without leading to everything sounding the same.

If you can deal with the voice-overs and would like a mix that tends more toward the laid back than toward a hands-in-the-air club raver, Zabiela’s Renaissance The Masters Series – Life is highly enjoyable.


06/16/2010 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] James Zabiela, Renaissance The Masters Series Recently I reviewed James Zabiela’s Renaissance The Masters Series – Life.  That CD was a follow-up to the album being reviewed here, Renaissance The Masters Series.  Like […]

    Pingback by Review: James Zabiela, Renaissance The Masters Series « Tuned In To Music | 06/19/2010 | Reply

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