DJ Hell bestrides modern techno like a colossus: he's more than just a producer or a DJ, he's an icon, too big and individual a personality to be accommodated by any one micro-scene. Hell doesn't just represent a type of music, he represents a whole lifestyle, aesthetic and worldview – and Body Language Vol. 9 is perhaps the closest any disc has yet come to capturing that totality.
Hell’s entry in Get Physical's ongoing Body Language mix series arrives in a period of considerable artistic achievement. Last year saw the release of Teufelswerk [Devil's Work], a wildly ambitious double-album that found Hell collaborating with artists as diverse as Bryan Ferry and Peter Kruder, earning much deserved acclaim. He brings a similar ambition and breadth of vision to Body Language Vol. 9, culling tracks from different eras and scenes and focussing them into a veritable laser-beam of pure passion and flair.
Over the course of this riveting session Hell displays a grasp house, techno and electronic pop that only great experience affords; whereas your average mix CD feels machine-like and disposable, Hell endeavours to deliver one of real character, substance and timelessness. There are plenty of recent productions amid the selection – Dixon, Will Saul, Christian Prommer all feature - but the goal here isn't merely to take the temperature of the times, it's to create a rich, entertaining and future-proof listening experience.
And so we are given a considerable insight into Hell's roots: from Klaus Schulze's kosmische epic 'Stargazer' to David Sylvian’s 'Forbidden Colours' (taken from the Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence soundtrack), via majestic Depeche Mode instrumental 'Esque' and - in one of the album's several flashes of wry humour - the Balanescu Quartet's incredible chamber-music rendition of Kraftwerk's 'The Robots'. Wit, melody, charisma, inventiveness - these qualities are as important to Hell as the bewitching thump of the kickdrum, and he gives full voice to them on Body Language Vol.9.
Not to suggest that there's no thump to proceedings – Hell digs deep into his collection and pulls out some of the most righteous, jacking dancefloor material you'll ever hear. Baby Ford & Eon's UK techno classic 'Dead Eye', King Britt's string-heavy, funked up remix of Josh One, DJ Assassin's skipping house jam 'Face In The Crowd' (Intellidread Mix), the acid-fried disco of Daniel Wang's 'Warped' – this mix is "edutainment" in the truest and best sense, and a pupil-dilating reminder of why Hell is one of the world’s most enduringly popular techno DJs.
Unafraid to deviate from passages of dancefloor delirium into more mellow and reflective spaces, Body Language Vol.9 is cinematic in scope and yet feels as intimate and personal as a mixtape made by your best friend or lover. You can tell just how much the music contained within matters to its maker: every choice has been made with care and consideration, every tune has earned its place in the tracklist. This is a journey into the heart of Hell – and it’s pure heaven.
A Kirk Degiorgio Nairobi (Carl Craig Remix)
B1 DJ Linus Are You Ready?
B2 Clara Moto feat. Mimu Silently (Kirk Degiorgio Remix)
C1 Christian Prommer Sueño Latino (DJ Hell - All U Need Is Love Remix)
C2 Daniel Wang Warped
D1 DJ Assassin Face In The Crowd (Intellidread Mix)
D2 Walter Murphy A Fifth Of Beethoven
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The name says it all: Get Physical tracks could hardly be more moving and corporeal.
This aspect of physicality also resurfaces on one of the labels key release: the always anticipated in-house DJ mix series "Body Language", featuring the likes of Dixon, DJ Hell, Azari & III, Catz ‘N Dogz, Francesco Tristano and of course label-founders M.A.N.D.Y., Booka Shade, and DJ T..
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