The balance mix series is not only seen as being the premier house and techno mix series but in releases by Joris Voorn contains a mix which is frequently regarded as the best of all time. Being held in such high esteem means that taking up the mantle of producing a Balance mix is both a real challenge and honour for any DJ. These challenges are fully embraced by Dutch house/techno producer and DJ Patrice Baumel. Who turns in a mix, which has been compiled for your headphones, and to technically show what a great mix can be. This mix has not been made for the dance floor but that is no bad thing, especially given that last year some of the best DJ mixes: Nils Frahm Late Night Tales, Mumdance Fabriclive, Jon Hopkins Late Night Tales and DJ Koze DJ Kicks weren’t particularly dancefloor orientated either.
So instead of the dancefloor Baumel’s Balance mix is actually beautifully engineered to listen to through your headphones whilst curled up in the dark. Technically Baumel adopts a similar mixing technique to Joris Voorn, in that he takes an eclectic selection of tunes and merges, cuts and blurs the boundaries between them till something new and thrilling is created.
The tune selection on display here is varied to say the least and sees Baumel calling on tracks by FKA Twigs, M83, Nils Frahm, Underworld and Plastikman. However, due to his mixing style almost none of them are distinguishable, only small song fragments bubble to the surface and when they do like in FKA Twigs case they sound as if they are coming at you from somewhere inside a catastrophic K Hole.
This is not to say that during the mix Baumel doesn’t kick things up a notch and the middle section does contain pounding techno and progressive house beats with DJ Hell and Baumel’s own remix of Underworld providing that main room feel. But this mix isn’t about that feeling and if you approach it holding out for this then you’ll be disappointed.
To me the best DJ mixes don’t just aim to make you dance but act as a narrative to a musical journey. This vibe is one which Baumel’s balance mix strives towards. However, whilst being incredibly enjoyable and brilliantly compiled things never reach the dizzying heights of those he aspires to. Leaving the sense that this is certainly a mix to get, enjoy and listen to but that Joris Voorn’s crown is safe at the moment.
Despite this criticism Patrice Baumel’s Balance mix is by far one of, if not the, stand out mix of 2016 so far, alongside Moodyman’s DJ Kicks, and is more than worth a listen.