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Ewan Pearson

We Are Proud of Our Choices

[Kompakt; 2010]

By ; March 4, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

In a world where podcasts are mixed and released at an inhumanly fast pace – instantly and completely free – the place of the mix CD becomes ever more confused. DJs have no use for a 70-minute disc made up of mixed tracks, and why should a home listener pay for the kind of thing they can get for free (legally, even!) from any number of blogs? Ewan Pearson presents Kompakt with his latest mix, cheekily titled We Are Proud of Our Choices, and he makes a persuasive case for the misfit format. Really, he deserves to be proud; Pearson constructs a wonderful, genre-defying mix that is impressively timeless. It’s not retro, it’s not futurist, it’s just unflinchingly pretty. It’s by no means a “chill-out” mix nor a particularly soothing listen, and there are just as many exciting, lively moments as there are moments to just get lost in the dreaminess of it all. Its selections are idiosyncratic and unpredictable, a sequence of tracks that feels truly artistic rather than just a tool for promoting tracks or something easy to dance to. And, most importantly, it’s just a joy to wade through.

The disc is sort of like a sightseeing tour of modern electronic music, starting with the lush techno of RMNVN (who provides the exclusive “Uno”) and Lusine (whose gauzy “Cirrus” feels like Redshape in front of a warm, cozy fireplace), eventually moving into an expert call-and-response between house and darker techno that Pearson makes sound like child’s play, culminating in the dark, almost aggressive piano-house of Yosa’s “Margaret.” Ewan Pearson throws away all the rules with Gregor Tresher’s “The Life Wire,” a ruminative orchestral piece that crashes head on into the cerebral molten beats of Xenia Beliayeva, the hard-edged house of Chris Fortier and an absolutely face-melting end stretch making its way through techno and even a bit of garage (taking its time with the lovely John Talabot remix of Al Usher’s “Silverhum”), eventually ending up in poppier territory with an exclusive edit of Little Dragon’s “Fortune” and a straight-up banger in Bot’ox’s “Blue Steel.”

Among the highlights, a lot of We Are Proud of Our Choices is quite conflicted; there’s the digital bird chips on “Birds On Tree” which just sound wrong even if initially pleasant, and even on a pretty track like RMNVN’s “Uno” there’s a dark, distorted synth lurking underneath the beautiful high-frequencies. Gregor Tresher’s stately, orchestral “Life Wire” transitions into the dark and sinister “Analog Effekt,” by and large the clear highlight here, its synths like brightly-burning balls of energy slamming into the walls and spreading outward, with sinister electro vocals that actually succeed in sounding vaguely menacing. Pearson’s own edit of Little Dragon’s “Fortune” buries loping percussion underneath gigantic humming bass and woozy, overwhelming synths – kind of like wonky without the hip-hop influence. Bot’ox’s “Blue Steel” pairs its urgent filtered riffs with a downbeat minor key melody, making for a disorienting finale that would have felt out of place at the end did it not possess this odd note of defeated finality. There are so many other amazing moments here: the way Fukotomi’s complacent house slowly morphs into the dazzling meteor shower of FuKiNK & Neville Watson’s ”Full Flight;” how the mix dabbles in traditional piano-house a second time with “Margaret,” lulling the listener into a false sense of security before completely dropping the floor underneath with the madness that ensues; these among many, many others.

Pearson claims that Choices was a massive project, taking an extraordinary amount of time to complete with apparently over 100 tracks being considered at one point. This isn’t surprising considering how careful it all sounds – this is not just another hyped-up mix in a numbered series, this is a statement of purpose, a landmark achievement. Even considering that most of the material is quite disparate and there’s no discernible theme, it’s so cohesive that it feels like this music belongs to Pearson and only him, even though he doesn’t provide one track of his own here aside from his Little Dragon edit. It’s a mix with a distinct personality and voice, one that reeks of passion; there’s no genre purism, no pressing concern for trendy sounds, only an ear for what simply sounds good It’s an amazing achievement that Pearson has made a mix that sounds like it was made equally for a club or for home listening, without falling into the trap of mid-tempo plod or excessive breakneck speed. Released in a format disparaged from the beginning by many and and arguably becoming increasingly irrelevant, We Are Proud of Our Choices is a stunning manifesto for the embattled niche, showing that there is still room for thoroughly-conceived, beautifully unique mix CDs in this new decade.


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