Various Artists – Ultimate Carl Cox

Seen by many as the world’s #1 DJ, it can not be denied that Carl Cox is undisputedly an excellent ambassador for techno and tech house sounds, and a damn legend in his own right in the dance music scene. And lucky for us, he now spends the greater part of his year right here in our own backyard! Seriously, Melbournians are unbelievably spoiled to have such a world class DJ playing intimate shows at venue’s like Billboard, and to get a chance to experience Carl up close and personal at various major events. Carl has obviously taken a liking to our city and our scene, as he proudly showed off with his ‘Made in Melbourne’ t-shirt at both his Melbourne shows last month. And to top it off, his latest mix compilation offering Ultimate Carl Cox was released first in Australia, in time for Australia Day long weekend. So does that mean we can adopt Carl as one of own then? How about an ‘Australian of the Year’ award then, Mr Rudd?

Anyway, let’s get back to the CD: Ultimate Carl Cox is a two CD master shot of modern techno, house and electro and is strong in track choice from start to finish. Disappointedly for me, it didn’t feature enough of that tribal bangin’ techno that I fell in love with during that first magic gig back in 2003 in Osaka, or during the honeymoon period when I saw him in London and Amsterdam, but it does give enough driving force to keep you interested, intrigued and bopping along.

At first glance the first disc didn’t exactly rock my boat, but over time it has developed into a great collection of tunes that I enjoy in the confines of my bedroom or on headphones to get me through a day of work. With the infectious Body Jackin’ from Jamie Anderson & Content, the eerie tones and tribal beats of Endy-jy’s Sitaro, Carl keeps it real with tech-infused beats. Australia’s own Digital Primate features with his If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes, before moving seamlessly into JI-FI’s Spirit Attack (Redhead remix) for quirky jumpy bopping. Heading into more minimal, darker territory, Carl drops in Santos’ Somatique (Maskio Bongotronik mix) but quickly moves upbeat again with My Digital Enemy’s It Begins, keeping the set interesting and enticing. The breakdown on this is just invigorating. Unfortunately he heads back into duller tones with the minimalistic bleeping Andrea Doria & Alex D’Elia’s Exit, but not for long. The groove is kicked back in with the short but sweet Savas Pascalidis & Remute’s The End is Far. Finishing up on Shlomi Aber’s Moods (with fellow Intec producer Valentino Kanzyani’s on remix duties, Carl takes you on a musical journey on disc one that shows just how far he has come, and proving why he is said to be a “true living legend”.

On disc two, Carl gets into bangin’ club mode with massive electro track The Migrants’ I Thought That, the tweaky The Riddle (Shimiko mix) from The Sugarman vs Harry Dean Stanton and back to electro with Superbass’ I’m With You (Richard Dinsdale remix). Taking a funky twist, Wonderland Avenue’s As Good As It Gets (Emjae & Jerome Robins remix) gets your foot tapping but the techy beats of Rob Mooney’s Jo Jo Dancer really steps it up. Unfortunately this doesn’t keep going right throughout the CD, but Carl picks it back up again and proves that he does do good remixes with his take on Sander Van Doorn’s massive anthem RIFF. The deep dark build up gets everything back on track again. Joachim Garraud’s X is just plain annoying, John Shelvin’s In My Eyes is hypnotic and gets you in the right headspace to take on my fave on the whole compilation; Joy Kitikonti’s relentless driving techy Mindattack. From here, Carl shows no limitations, with the breakbeat fuelled Giga Tanz from Ferhat Albayrak, chilled out vibe of Steve Mulder’s Signature and the slightly tribal, slightly Arabian DJ 3000’s Sacred Time. To complete it all, Incognito Project’s Flying Bass is true Carl sound and a great way to finish.

Moving with the times, this compilation may not be his signature tribal techy sound that he rocked a few years back, but the way Carl serves it up, you gotta love it regardless. Although there are moments throughout the compilation that aren’t really my sound, I can respect and appreciate the quality of what Carl has done and why those tracks were chosen. He is someone who never ceases to amaze and delight me with his sets, productions and performances… Plus it helps that he’s such a down-to-earth nice guy in real life. You can’t help but love him! I know I sure do.