Alex Niggemann harks back to the days of the elusive mixtape with the latest Balance mix series

2016 has been a pretty good year for Alex Niggemann. His own imprints have steadily churned out some spectacular releases and as a producer himself, Alex has enjoyed success with original productions on a multitude of labels. He’s also travelled across the globe DJing at some of the Worlds best clubs and festivals – October is no exception with Modernity Festival, Gstaad and his AEON ADE showcase over the next few weeks, Cafe d’Anvers, Antwerp and the Steelyard, London in November and dates in Australia over Christmas. This year also sees Alex join the ranks of electronic music’s finest to deliver a mix for the famous Balance series. A serious feather in the cap of any artist, previously contributions come from James Holden to Hernan Cattaneo and Danny Tenaglia over its 15 years of history.

“I think this mix is easy to listen to while doing something else, but it’s also something to trip out on; bringing you on a journey when listening to it very precisely with closed eyes. In this moment you’ll also find out about the little details that you maybe don’t hear on the first listen, but which I hope make this mix special.” – Alex Niggemann

A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Alex shows off his skills as a truly inspired selector from electronica to deep house and techno, featuring remixes and originals from Daniel Avery, to Aril Brikha & Sebastian Mullaert and exclusives from Alex himself. “For me, it was important to create new ‘songs’ between each track during the transitions between them.” He tells me, “For me, a “mixtape” was always about that; trying to avoid obvious changes and create a fusion between songs, keeping the same mood, so the listener doesn’t hear a new song coming in, but realises after a few minutes that there was a change.

Starting decidedly ambient with the excellent TVA – Radio Camaldoli Stereo we are thrust headlong into a melting pot of tastes and influences. Indeed, disparate artists such as Andrea Olivia rub shoulders with Drum & Bass producer Marcus Intelex (under his Trevino guise) and Gui Boratto with a Dave DK twist. Always melodic, always powerful Alex’s ease of movement between moods and tension allows the mix the kind of fluidity that many DJs only dream of.

Each track sits snuggly in its place – as much perfectly carved for its stand-alone moment as it’s overall melodic positioning.

With guns blazing, the midpoint is a techno love story between the beauty of Dubspeeka’s SK4 (on Sasha’s LNOE) and the relentlessness of Baikal’s Pelican’s Flight, and by the time we reach Speaking Minds – Monongahela (Denis Horvat Remix) on Alex’s amazing AEON imprint all bets are off and the listener (I can only speak for myself) is frantically texting mates for an impromptu night dancing! Bringing things down a notch is the ever reliable MUUI with his Crossfrontier Audio release, Rsrsrs. Deep pads and a solid drum line draw you in even further (or in my case peel me from the ceiling!) giving a perfect canvas to allow Aril Brikha & Sebastian Mullaert to eh, Illuminate us!

Now we’re into the final furlong, but Niggemann isn’t finished with us. Valent’s Crisis of Faith is, for me, one of the best tracks of 2015. Testament then, that a full year later it still remains as understated and wildly emotive as ever. Alex’s choice to drop the tension for the last part of the mix is inspired. Following the path of a full night’s entertainment, it allows the DJ to fully express themselves taking the listener on a brilliantly paced sonic ride. The ambient ending – Ø [Phase] – Astryx – brings us neatly full circle and my hand hovers over the play button for another go.

Mark my words, progressive house is on the rise for 2017 and with ambassadors like Alex Niggemann flying the melodic flag with mind melting, soul quenching mixes like this one, we may even see the long misunderstood genre reach the heights of the late 90s again. Here’s hoping anyway. Bravo Alex, this is one mixtape I will be playing for a very very long time.

Tracks
1. TVA – Radio Camaldoli Stereo
2. Andrea Olivia – Empty Lips
3. Dark Sky – Rainkist (Trevino’s Heartbeat Remix)
4. Gui Boratto – Joker (Dave DK Mix)
5. Ricardo Tobar – Garden (Daniel Avery Remix)
6. Alex Niggemann feat The Shadow Self – Hurricane (Club Mix)
7. Trikk – Volta
8. Dubspeeka – SK4
9. Baikal – Pelican’s flight
10. Philipp Stoya – Rula
11. TVA – Stolen Jacket
12. Speaking Minds – Monongahela (Denis Horvat Remix)
13. MUUI – Rsrsrs
14. Aril Brikha & Sebastian Mullaert – Illuminate
15. Valent – Crisis of Faith
16. Etapp Kyle – Opto
17. Alex Niggemann – Divergent
18. Antigone – Blue Note
19. Ø [Phase] – Astryx