BEST COMPILATION: JAMES ZABIELA “BALANCE 029” [BALANCE MUSIC]
To say James Zabiela went in deep on his ‘Balance 29’ double- mix album is a bit of an understatement. From initial wishlist playlists of over 2000 potential tracks, he whittled it down to the final 58-track odyssey by months and months of experimenting, editing, fusing and sculpting…
His diligence is more than evident across these winning mixes. Even for a DJ with Zabiela’s reputation, ‘Balance 29’ is a serious piece of work — both musically and technically. Running the atmospheric gamut from gentle electronica to thundering techno, attention is paid to the very last detail, to the point almost every track is a mix in itself, comprising elements of three or four tunes. For added detail you can break the mixes down yourself in the album artwork mix schematic James provided with the album… A wry nod to Sasha & Digweed’s seminal ‘Northern Exposure’ mixes that inspired James as a teenager 20 years ago. Refreshingly, even after over 15 years of professional DJing, his music fan side is still very much in full effect…
“What I found exciting about the mix when it was released was that, as a fan of each and every artist who appeared on the mix, it put me in direct contact with them,” James says. “Some had perhaps heard of me as a DJ but weren’t really aware just how much I admired their work. That was ace for me to connect with them.”
The connections go both ways; James explains how fans got in touch online and in clubs and asked about specific details and mixes he’d crafted. “I love that some people got as nerdy about listening to it as I did putting it together,” James grins. “I genuinely was surprised how some people connected with it. It’s more than I could’ve hoped for.”
His deep ethic and attention to detail paid off: to say that James Zabiela’s ‘Balance 29’ mix is a reminder that professional mix albums still have serious validity in today’s game is a bit of an understatement. – DJ Mag
The album is out now.