Various Artists – GU35: Lima, mixed by Nick Warren

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Alrighty then. This is no less than Bristol boy Nick Warren’s eighth compilation for the Global Underground crew, so you’d assume by now he’d have settled into somewhat of a groove. Found himself a formula, so he can just churn ‘em out a two-year intervals without having to put too much thought into things. Nick’s in his early 40s after all: he’s been doing this ‘deep, lush progressive house’ thing for quite a while, in a world that for the past few years all but forgot about house music with any sort of melody at all. Surely his passion would be starting to wane by now? How quickly we forget, though; because everytime Nick Warren puts out a new Global Underground compilation, he knocks the wind out of his fans with surprise at just how damn good it is. GU35: Lima is no different.

Unlike some of his progressive house colleagues, Nick Warren hasn’t been known for taking the sort of considered approach that leads to epic three-minute transitions, or anything else as deadly serious as that. He’s always been more of a crowd rocking, ‘wham bam thankyou maam’ type of performer. However, on his recent mix compilations it’s been a different story. They’re about as measured and precise as you can get without taking it too deep, and his selections are about as fresh as they come. You won’t hear any played-out anthems here, and he truly does dig deep for those undiscovered gems, reaching out to the underground whenever he starts putting a new CD together. It’s the same story on GU35: Lima; while Warren’s trademark melody is intact, it’s also probably his deepest offering yet. There’s a tripped out, dubby and slightly sinister side to this release that we haven’t heard from Warren before and while Deadmau5’s massive melodic riffs might be dominating progressive house at the moment, you won’t find anything that predictable here.

The first disc is a sublime piece of melodic deepness; there’s a solid club beat that holds down the groove all the way through, alongside a gorgeous blend of tribal percussion that underpins a lot of the tunes, but it’s about as far from a charging 3am session that you can get. It’s a smooth, blissful journey that never really lifts the BPMs too high but on the same note, isn’t afraid to indulge in a bit of emotion. Ormatie’s Twisted Turns has everything you could ask for in a lush progressive tune – deep rhythms, beautiful melodies and uplifting emotion – and the wafting, flowery hook of Petersky’s Kurs Zjazdowy is as serene as the bassline is gripping. It’s gorgeous, laidback stuff, but then right at the end it descends into a hypnotic vortex that’s equal parts reassuring and disconcerting, before finishing things off with a dash of melancholic sadness courtesy of the 16 Bit Lolitas.

The second CD picks up the pace immediately with the house-heavy slice of prog from Alex Dolby, before shifting quickly into the compilation’s finest moment. The ringing chimes, rolling basslines and hypnotic percussion of Etiket’s Revelation truly are a revelation, and it’s one of the most sublime pieces of progressive I’ve heard in quite a while. Of the two discs, the second is the one that has the tendency to drag on a bit and lose direction at times, but it’s the perfect piece of music to listen to passively in the background. It concludes in a high-class fashion with Robert Babicz and his mix of Way Out West’s Spaceman, the Berlin techno mainstay proving his incredible versatility as a producer with a gorgeous 10-minute epic, before Warren shuts things down with the strangely gripping handclaps of The Perc.

There’s no ‘chillout disc’ here like we’ve seen on Warren’s past Global Underground efforts, but on the whole it’s still probably less concerned with recreating a bangin’ club vibe than anything he’s done prior. Instead, he’s given himself the freedom to take it real deep and it’s an approach that will frustrate some, but will make it a winner for others. There’s nothing too immediate or direct, and it’s definitely not anthemic. As a result though, it may just get more of a spin than your typical mix CD and this makes GU35: Lima something to be savoured. It’s full of beautiful, beautiful music and best of all, it proves there’s plenty of new directions left for progressive house to head in. For fans of Nick Warren at his best, it comes highly recommended.

Check out the tracklisting…

01. Paul Rogers – Intro
02. Nils Nuerenberg – Seduction
03. Kruse and Nuernberg – An Why E
04. Jarius Miller – Botnet
05. Babak Shayan – O in a Million (remix)
06. Twisted Turns – Ormatie
07. Glide – Cassini
08. Victoria R – Beauty Goes Blind
09. Petersky – Kurs Zjazdowy
10. Michael Burns – Panoptic Surface
11. Yura – Popov
12. Stan Kolev – Soma Funk (Yvel & Tristan Mix)
13. Astrid Suryanto – Distant Bar (16 Bit Lolita’s Mix)

01. Alex Dolby – Long Beach
02. Etiket – Revelation
03. Chris Croat Yvel & Tristan – Panama
04. Nicolo Vivarelli – I am Trying
05. Richard Gale – Moloko Plus
06. Somnus Corps – Expo86
07. Thomas Sagstad – Castillian
08. Martin Brodin – Siberian Transit
09. The Steals vs. Graffiti – Sinner (Leama and James Davis ‘Graffiti’ Mix)
10. Way Out West – Spaceman (Robert Babicz Mix)
11. Analogue People in a Digital World – Before the Wind
12. Perc – Bosworth