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Album Review: Various: Balance 021

7 May 2012 | 5:32 pm | Kris Swales

"Balance has been long overdue a disc which unleashes hell and Fanciulli definitely heats things up, but his idea of a bombing raid is slamming down one monotonous techy weapon after another, each so similar to the last that even their mothers would struggle to pick them out of a line-up."

2011 was arguably the finest year yet for the Australian-bred Balance series, with mixes from Nick Warren, Henry Saiz and Deetron each putting a spin on progressive, house and techno which hit the mark quickly yet didn't wear out their welcome with repeat listens. So Nic Fanciulli had his work cut out for him on his first compilation since his 2009 Global Underground mix sank virtually without a trace, and the man, whose early efforts for Renaissance never quite matched the hype surrounding him, delivers yet another tradesman-like performance here.

On the plus side, Fanciulli eschews ponderous studio trickery for a club-friendly approach across this two disc set. The build-up from deep to dancefloor on disc one in particular is brief yet beautifully structured, but when 27 tracks from production talents like Maya Jane Coles, Joris Voorn and Lovebirds fly by without anything leaping out until Marco Basanov brings the pianos on the penultimate Up, you can't help but wish he'd sprinkled another hook or two through the selection.

Disc two sees the Saved Records boss teeing off almost from the get-go as he showcases the sounds of his label – give or take the unexpected drum solo breakdown in &ME's Matters, it's throbbing basslines and relentless percussion all the way. Balance has been long overdue a disc which unleashes hell and Fanciulli definitely heats things up, but his idea of a bombing raid is slamming down one monotonous techy weapon after another, each so similar to the last that even their mothers would struggle to pick them out of a line-up.

It's not terrible, just not terribly interesting either, Balance 021's cookie-cutter approach making it unlikely to trouble the scorers in any future discussion of “best-ever Balance mix”.

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