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John Digweed & Nick Muir – Versus

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Label: Bedrock RecordsScore: 9/10 

Bedrock Records’ eclectic Versus album originally began taking shape as a remix swap with the relatively modest intent of an EP release.  Over a twelve month period, however the project blossomed into an expansive triple album which proved to be the most collaborative and musically diverse project to date for the label taking in sounds ranging from lush, cinematic downtempo to jet-fueled techno.

Versus eases in to gear with “Lupine,” a patient, predatory gem co-created by one of the Bedrock label’s most consistently brilliant artists, Henry SaizJohn Digweed’s and Nick Muir’s musical presence is felt throughout the collection, perhaps none as poignantly as on the summery, heartbreaking collaboration with Jozif, “Groove del Verano.”  Pig & Dan deliver “Morphism,” yet another tasty slice of their brand of dirty techno and one of the album’s defining moments with its prickly stabs in an eerie eye-of-the-storm break.   

“Dawnbreaker,” Digweed and Muir’s dazzling co-production with Ian O’Donovan is a future classic as it conjures vivid memories of past Bedrock glory of the same caliber as 2002’s “Emerald.”  Versus features some darker offerings as well with Irish duo, Psycatron’s fizzy acid workout, “Awakenings” and Marco Bailey’s relentless battering ram, “Red Tape.”      

Two remixes feature on Versus along with the album’s collaborations.  Guy J’s interpretation of Bedrock’s classic, “Heaven Scent” is graceful and effortless while Second Hand Satellites (composed of Three and Sean Q6) kick in their twisted Iridium Flares Mix of the 2003 release, “Forge” which reveals new layers of subtle texture and ominous depth with each listen.    

Digweed’s and Muir’s breathtaking electronica disc, worthy of a stand-alone release, allows for a deeper exploration of the sound of an iconic duo whose reputation looms large despite having only a handful of revered productions and remixes to their credit.  The vibrant “Gigawave” is full of peaks and valleys of ambient swells which gives way to the rumbling, melancholic “Bubblenet.”  “Larco” is an airy, slo-mo house chugger loaded with effects and melodic touches that underscore Digweed’s and Muir’s sound design mastery while the swirling “Buried Heart” approaches a New Age space with its chime-y tones and panning vocal.    

Versus is a true collaboration- a unifying statement that succinctly captures the strengths of each of its contributors in this daring and truly unique concept album.  A project that was intended to be nothing more than a remix EP has evolved into one of the Bedrock label’s most variegated yet cohesive compilations in years. 

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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