[written in september 2007]
A good percent of all well known deejays have released atleast one mix cd, and some of the biggest deejays are still releasing them yearly. Armin van Buuren for instance seems to release atleast one mix cd every year. Here’s his latest mix cd, Universal Religion part 3:
1. Sunlounger – Another Day at the Terrace
2. Dash Berlin – Till the Sky Falls Down (dub)
3. Jose Amnesia feat. Jennifer Rene – Invincible (Sied van Riel Remix)
4. Dubfire – Roadkill (EDX’s Acapulco At Night Remix)
5. David West – Welsh Morphology
6. Markus Schulz vs Andy Moor – Daydream
7. Terk Dawn – Barent Blue (Marninx pres. Monogato remix)
8. Aly & Fila vs FKN feat. Jahala – How Long?
9. Mungo – Summer Blush
10.Forerunners – Life Cycle (Deep Blue)
11.The Doppler Effect – Beauty Hides in the deep (John O Callaghan Remix)
12.John O Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher – Big Sky (Agnelli & Nelson Remix)
13.Thomas Bronzwaer – Resound
14.Armin van Buuren feat. Susana – If you Should Go
Looking at the tracklist I can’t help myself thinking that this looks just like another episode of his ‘A State of Trance’ radio show. First I listen it for free, and now I wanna pay for the same experience.
In times before the internet or when the connections were still pretty slow, dj mixtapes and mix-compilations were a big thing. Ministry of Sound cds sold like hell and everyone was waiting for the next mix-cd from their favourite deejay. Back then there wasn’t online radio shows, no dj sets shared anywhere, buying mix cds was the best way to hear the latest tracks and experience the sets from your favourite deejays at home.
But what about now? Every deejay has their own radioshow, even amateur deejays. And the internet is filled with dj mixes to download, from lesser known deejays to big names. So why would anyone wanna buy a mix cd when they can download more or less the exact set (or record an online radio broadcast) from that same deejay and burn it to cd?
People are obviously buying those compliations, because if the compliations didn’t sell enough, deejays like Armin wouldn’t keep releasing them. Well maybe they just feel like supporting the deejay they love, or that they aren’t able to listen his radioshows and other sets. No matter what it is I can’t see myself buying such a mix cd, even if the cover art would be magnificent and the case was handmade from wood.
So what would I buy then? Well the first thing that comes into my mind is Solarstone’s “Destinations v1” compliation I bought last year. I wasn’t even that big of a fan of uplifting trance anymore, but this mix was something I really enjoyed. It’s a musical experience and not just one track after another. It also had lots of tracks and edits that are only available on that album. Another one would be Tiesto’s “In Search ofSunrise 5” and other ISOS compliations. The style of music in them is perfect for my taste, but the fact that there are always lots of unknown gems, unheard and unreleased tracks included, is what makes it worth all the money.
So all in all, here are few things that I think make a good mix cd:
1. The tracklist, naturally the music has to be good
2. Offer something you can’t get anywhere else (edits of the tracks, unreleased tracks and if possible tracks that won’t be available anywhere else. for example “Christian Rusch – Numb” a great track that’s only available on Coldharbour Sessions 2004.)
3. A theme, something to make the cd special, like an album for the beach (chillout) or darker scary tracks. Something that ties the tracks together somehow, so when someone for instance asks you good dark trance, you can suggest to check out that mix cd.
4. Some like mixes raw and realistic (perhaps done with turntables) and I think that’s sometimes great too, but using software like ableton gives so much more creativity. So if you mix with ableton, don’t just mix it like you would on turntables/CDJs, do stuff that are impossible to do with just two turntables. Mashups, long transitions, play 2, 3 or even 4 tracks at the same time, or parts from them here and there, vocals, beat loops anything.
Try create a musical experience, something that’s almost like one long and versatile track. It’s that moment when people start calling it a good mix cd, instead of a mix cd with good tracks on it.