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Optimo - Walkabout

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Artist: Optimo

Album: Walkabout

Label: Endless Flight

Review date: May. 11, 2007

Optimo (Espacio) is the name of the Sunday night party at the Sub Club in Glasgow. Since its inception in 1997, Optimo has become known as one of the world's best parties, not only for the craziness of its crowd but also for the wildness of its DJs, one JD Twitch and one JG Wilkes. In a time when 'eclectic' DJs in the styles of Hollertronix and 2manydjs have become a dime a dozen, Optimo's playlists still look insane, including both hoary rock and soul cuts along with state of the art house and techno, all recklessly mixed together. In the hands of lesser DJs, this would likely result in an unlistenable mess, but instead both of these guys are blessed with the third ear, the elite selector's uncanny knack for knowing what unlikely pieces of music will actually sound fantastic together. Checking out Twitch and Wilkes playing live will bear this out, as a good set of theirs is among the most fun you can hope to have in a nightclub: dance music played in a gonzo, punk rock style by world-class DJs.

Walkabout is Optimo's third commercially released mix CD, following How To Kill The DJ Part 2 and Optimo Present Psyche Out. How To Kill The DJ attempts to replicate a typical Sunday night at the Sub Club, cramming nearly fifty tracks into the space of eighty exhilarating, whiplash-inducing minutes. Psyche Out is less frenetic but even more blinding: as the title suggests, it explores the far reaches of acid rock and acid house in search of the deepest lysergic vibes possible. How To Kill The DJ is very, very good; Psyche Out is one of the finest mix CDs ever assembled.

Fittingly, Walkabout is totally different from its two predecessors, focusing on a variety of minimal-inclined electronic music. There's plenty of 'minimal' in the current Berlin/Detroit style, as well as more left-field choices including Suicide's rambling new wave, Lenny Dee & Nicolai Vorkapich's industrial techno and Like A Tim's warped electro. Grey and blue timbres along with grinding percussion and synths unify the program, which veers from slamming aggression to tear-stained introspection to dancefloor exuberance, with the electronic psychedelia of Black Dice's "Manoman" rounding things off.

It's not the most immediately inviting listen: much of the disc is pretty forbidding, with only the final few tracks lightening the mood at the end. Repeated plays reveal a depth and a consistency that rival Psyche Out, however, and the placement of Boris' gentle "My Machine" is particularly stunning. As with Optimo's previous mixes, this is not merely a compilation of big dancefloor tracks that wears itself out quickly, but instead something much richer that will only seem deeper with each subsequent listen.

By Greg Ferguson

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