Game Boy Advance Month Recap Capcom Month Recap Konami Month Recap Like us on Facebook! Subscribe to us on Twitter!
LABEL: Kontor, Urban RELEASE DATE: May 3, 1999 GENRE: Trance
// review by SoyBomb

All mixed up.

4The career of Blank & Jones (plus producer Andy Kaufhold in the background, although "Blank, Jones & Kaufhold" just doesn't roll off the tongue) has spanned well over twenty years. From dancefloor-friendly beats to what they've dubbed "chilltronica", they've covered many bases over the years. But their musical journey began here with the super fly album title, "In Da Mix". Does the album hold up?

The album is introduced with On A Journey (Intro), telling us to close our eyes as various space element sounds are played around us, plus some symphonic strings. Apparently we're going on a journey, at which time we're taken into Cream, one of the group's first singles. With standard beat & bass to drive us into this track, the buildup slowly leads to a pretty standard dance synth edging its way in, which then pushes the track into some average territory. Midway through, some flanged pads try to add a bit of flair, to middling effect. The melody doesn't stand out as anything beyond the norm at this point in dance music, either. I have no idea where the "cream" part comes in.

Flying To The Moon was another early single for the duo, this one featuring semi-soulful female vocals, mostly about flying to the moon, naturally. This song has a bit more flair, complete with bass straight out of a fart soundboard and a far superior melody, especially when contrasting with the vocals. Not a bad track for its time period. Meanwhile, Wake Up assumes we were asleep and asks us to awaken, using a bouncing bass that is simultaneously creepy and satisfying. Eventually, a more angelic and plunky arpeggio melody slides in, and it's pretty relaxing, to be honest... or at least it is before it's shoved into your face by a stronger synth. Wake Up is another enjoyable song, however, signifying that there's something to this album after all...

Strong, complete with haunting screams, waltzes in with some an electro swagger and some analog toots before eventually getting to its destination: a little extra dark rumbling in the background. And that's it. The song doesn't go anywhere productive. For a track called "Strong", it's surprisingly weak. But then we get the mega-fonky B-Boy-Style, a switch in style featuring semi-breakbeats and darker synths, not to mention corny scratch samples. Clearly they're trying to gain some "street cred", but it's not quite working. The track ends up sounding more like a blend of trance and 80s synthwave, just with a different beat. It's not bad at all, but to call this "B-Boy-Style" is a misnomer. You'll never see anyone breakdancing to this unless they are just dancing regularly while searching for a lost contact lens.

Nice And Warm tries to give us a "nice, warm feeling" but doesn't always succeed with its unusual and somewhat off-key donky bassline. The beeping intro and semi-acidic melody is a neat little oddity to listen to, but again, I'm not getting a warm feeling from this one. Instead, you feel like your colony is under attack from space centipedes. That's not warmth; that's fear. Next is Heartbeat, yet another of Blank & Jones' earliest singles. "Why does it hurt when my heart misses a beat?", the song asks as some pretty standard beeps and boops prattle along. The answer: that means you're having palpitations, and you should see a physician. The main melody is chipper yet a tad dark; it's also based somewhat on a tune from Lunatic Asylum called "The Meltdown". Like Cream, this one failed to grab my attention, perhaps due to its intensely basic nature, whereas other tracks on this album contain far more detail or layering. (I'd actually recommend searching for the Lunatic Asylum version instead; it's a bit more thrilling.)

Yuh-oh. Sugar Daddy. With bumbly bass and a mix of gritty square synths, we are led into slightly darker territory than usual with an evil melody usually reserved for haunted laboratories and abandoned prisons. Still, it absolutely does NOT blend well with the "sugar daddy" vocal clip. They simply don't belong together. All in all, this one ends up being a standard track that fails to really stand out. After this is After Love, yet another single from the album. Immediately greeted by glowing pad wisps, a nonsensical wanna-be breakbeat, and a bassline more enticing to the ear, the "After Love" sample slides in to greet us. Soon, we're fistpumping away to a mere beat and bass. Eventually, we get the main melody, using a very strong beep similar to early (and even present day) 4 Strings tunes. I admittedly like this sound; it's so darn crisp. The tune itself isn't anything particularly special, but it IS a bit uplifting, so they get credit for that.

The finale is Out Of Here, an ambient escape as we close out the album. We're thanked for listening by mysterious voices as pads and creaky distant doors lead us to the exit. The remaining four tracks on the album are just short edits of the singles: Flying To The Moon, Heartbeat, Cream, and After Love.

This was a good starting point for Blank & Jones, but it's certainly far from their best, with too many tracks being hit and miss. Looking at albums beyond their debut, you can see the evolution of their work over time as they not only improve their production skills but also expand into new territories, including their long-running more chill Relax series, as well as their curations of 80s hits. In Da Mix represents where they came from with relatively simple sounds, representative of the time it was produced. For their more interesting work, it might be best to look elsewhere, but for "classic" trance, this could be your ticket to happiness.


Widget is loading comments...
Random.access and its contents are © 2005-2018.