Review: 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 the the other albums in Renaissance’s Masters Series, Renaissance The Masters Series is a two disc collection.
In the earlier review I pointed out the inane voice overs that were inserted in the mix that were supposed to be profound observations about life but came across as cringe-worthy and juvenile. I wondered why someone in the CD production chain hadn’t brought some common sense to the project and pointed out that the voice-over bits were embarrassing. As it turns out, maybe somebody did because the extraneous material Zabiela has dumped into the mix is even worse here on the earlier album than it was on the later.
The same I-think-I’m-deep-but-I’m-only-just-too-young-to-know-the-difference voice-overs are again present but this time they are accompanied by “field recordings” (lol) that Zabiela made during the course of his day. These field recordings turn out to be things like random street noises, garbled airport announcements, and the sound of rain falling. If you think the background noise of unintelligible PA announcements is of little interest when you’re the one in the airport, just think how fascinating they must be when it’s someone else who happened to be in an airport. The justification for adding this garbage to the mix is that disc one is supposed to capture the course of Zabiela’s day while disc two represents the mix he plays in the club that night. Capture the course of Zabiela’s day as he walks down the street and goes to the airport? Who cares? This is a level of self-absorption and self-regard that is almost embarrassing to observe. Zabiela really needs to get over himself.
As with the CD reviewed earlier, the music and the mix on Renaissance The Masters Series is good if you can put up with the extraneous junk. Disc 1 is laid back and disc 2 is more uptempo as befits the idea that 2 is supposed to represent a club mix. Again as with the previously reviewed CD, Zabiela tends toward a combination of breakbeat and tech house in his mix. He sequences and segues well and has a pronounced ability to work with rhythms that are more complex and sophisticated than the pounding 4/4 that characterizes a lot of house music. On the basis of his own “Darkness.2”, Zabiela also shows promise as a music producer.
One again, Zabiela has produced a pair of very good mixes that are marred by an overweening sense of self-importance. Disc 2 is better in this regard than disc 1. If you can get past the vanity, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
“Darkness.2 from Renaissance The Masters Series
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