Various Artists – Sound of the Ninth Season, mixed by Sven Vath

Spring has sprung and summer is heating up (well, sort of), and that means it’s time for another Season from everyone’s favourite fortysomething caner Sven Ví¤th. This year’s release catalogs the tracks that Papa Sven pumped out as part of his 2008 ‘Disco Invaders’ them for Cocoon Ibiza. While Minus was busy giving the cynics their best ammunition yet with ‘The Cube’, Richie was also helping Sven with some wacky prancing around as part of the Disco Invaders promo.

And while the CD doesn’t really live up to Sven’s description of the theme being Bootsy Collins meets Studio 54, there are certainly sections that could be the “laser disco minimal” he promised, if not something for “minimal techno ravers”. If nothing else, the Ninth Season is a definite departure from last year’s sound, and it’s certainly very Sven, in both style and substance. Yeah, the theming is wacky, it’s self indulgent, and what the hell does this have to do with the serious business of mnml anyway – but that is what Sven Ví¤th and his gude laune are all about, and by gosh, that’s why we wet ourselves at the mere mention of his name.

Chinstrokers have jumped all over the tracklisting for packing in a number of overplayed hits, and while it’s certainly true that Dubfire’s remix of Grindhouse and Johnny D’s Orbitalife scream ‘Beatport Top 10’, the Seasons series is, after all, meant to be representative of what was being flogged in Ibiza mid-year. It’s not meant to be a forward-thinking compilation. Then again, is Big Papa really so cutting-edge anyway? He was still caning the Eighth Season tracklisting when his tour arrived in Australia in March this year – that’s a bloody long time to be promoting last season’s tracks.

To the first CD then, and it’s off to the ‘Disco’. Mathew Jonson (back in Australia in January! Fuck yes! Sorry, I get a bit of the tourette’s when his name is mentioned) kicks off with his epic (10.5 minute) Symphony For The Apocalypse. One of the most talked about tracks of the year, it’s ten minutes of building, regressing, morphing electronica. It’s Jonson’s insanity given its freest rein yet, but it also typifies the current trend of extended tracks that shift and change. We’ve come a long way from loop-based techno, and so has Sven because this mix is full of such tunes. None are as long – or as twisted – as Jonson’s big ‘un, but a couple are just shy of 10 minutes, and only one is shorter than 6. What that means is time for both producer and Sven – with lashings of effects and editing – to explore their sounds.

No sooner is the Apocalypse over than we’re firmly in the club with some easily-digested four-on-the-floor stuff. There’s even the prog beats of Sasha in the mix with The Mongoose. The standout track Buiya chugs along nicely, and the set finds its groove. But Ví¤th is not known for letting things settle, which is a nice way of saying he’s not known for flowing mixes. He takes us down with Perfect Circles and pulls the handbrake with an abrupt non-mix into Grindhouse. And just like that, we’re down in ketaminimal territory (it really is one of the joys of this job, making up new genre names). It’s not so much that Grindhouse is one of the most overplayed tracks of the year, it’s that it wasn’t all that good to begin with.

Thankfully, the warehouse stabs of Mismo Plastico pull us out of the k-hole, before a remix of this year’s Smith & Selway monster Total Departure, or as I like to call it, 8 Minute Buildup. As with the rest of the series, the first CD is more dancefloor-friendly, whereas the second is more for the ‘afterhours’. So here, ‘Invaders’ begins with the haunting sighs of Anthony CollinsReeves, before taking us on a melodic journey via Orbitalife to the Pigon boys on vintage prog duty with Promises. There’s house too, as Joris Voorn backs up from his Eighth Season appearance with floorfiller The Deep, this time stunning with the gorgeous and very bright Magnolia Mix of Robert Babicz’s Dark Flower.

Whereas the club beats don’t match last year’s, the downtempo CD is far better arranged, and, joy of joys, there’s no repeat of that Pepe Bradock shocker. I should stress that comparisons between the Seasons are ill-advised, as they’re really standalone releases with their own carefully crafted (hyped?) themes. At the end of the day though, the Eighth Season was on rotation in my stereo until Sven got round to Australia in March. While it’s an interesting listen, and crammed with lots of the big tunes of the year, the ‘Disco’ CD isn’t composed well enough to give it the same longevity. In fact, it’s the supposedly downtempo CD that builds in pace and energy, with a more coherent and consistent mix that offers the real rewards of the Ninth Season.

Check out the tracklisting…

Disc 1

01. Mathew Jonson – Symphony For The Apocalypse: New Age Revolution

02. Styro 2000 – Liver Donor (Bang Goes Rx)

03. Sasha – The Mongoose

04. Ahem Sisman – Buiya

05. Timo Maas – Subtellite

06. Alex Flatner – Perfect Circles (Original)

07. Radio Slave – Grindhouse (Dubfire Terror Planet Remix)

08. Virtualismo – Mismo Plastico

09. Smith & Selway – Total Departure (Cirez D)

10. Ví¤th vs Flügel – Trashbindance

Disc 2

01. Anthony Collins – Reeves

02. Kollektive Turmstrasse – Herz Aus Holz Mix

03. SIS – Orgsa

04. Johnny D – Orbitalife

05. Quenum – Vault Element

06. Reboot – Vandong

07. Sven Tasnadi – Waiting For You Again

08. Pigon – Promises

09. Microworld – This Is My Friend (Disco Version)

10. Robert Babicz – Dark Flower (Joris Voorn Magnolia Mix)

11. Luke Solomon – Spirits (Prins Thomas Disko-tek Miks)