Sasha - The Emfire Collection

A rare, bespoke, individualistic gem
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With four releases now under its belt since last December, Sasha’s Emfire imprint has already, quite expectedly in my view, established itself as one of the finest boutique electronica labels around featuring both Sasha’s own output alongside remixes from his typical collaborators such as Slam, Three and plenty more besides.

Since Emfire’s output is put out on vinyl and online, a compilation CD was perhaps inevitable and although its release is swift on the heels of the releases, it’s no less fine for that, bringing together edits of the early singles, remixes and an elegant forty minute cinematic soundtrack into an ambitious two hour double CD package entitled “Mixed, remixed and unmixed.”

Recruiting four remixers into the fold for the first CD, the likes of Slam, Audion, Radio Slave and The Field, all take on one of Emfire’s releases supplying two mixes each, one more abstract some what in the vein of T:me / Em:t’s nineties ambient, one more festival and dancefloor friendly for each of the four outputs. Clash mates and techno mainstays Slam lead the parade with two remixes of debut record “Coma” which keeps up the high standards of remixing excellence for which Orde and Stuart have been consistently praised. Although neither mix reaches the absolute crisp high of the elementally emotive original, Slam’s moody, purist progressive takes on their “Soma Coma” mix resonate with Sasha’s more downbeat style while their “Paragraph” remix proves a more spirited, bouncy electro thumper, reminiscent to a degree of their Billie Ray Martin co-sparer “Bright Lights Fading”.

Next up is the excruciatingly fashionable Audion whose treatments of “Park It In The Shade” follow the same edges as the other remixers, namely one more arty / minimalist, one more direct / dancefloor. The downstrung chic of Audion’s first “Deep Steeple Mix” is ironically very Soma Recordings sounding with a lengthy, shimmying, Bassic Channel riff as its central hook, rising throughout a 12 minute Fused work out. Next version, the amusingly entitled “Audion Ain’t Got No Friends” mix sees the techno garage original reinterpreted in a subliminal jacking style of maelvolant swirling electronica that’s one part Fast Eddie and one part Funk D’Void.

Third in line, Radio Slave, whose production dabs are all over their two takes on “Who Killed Sparky”, both of which deviate from the more typical Emfire progressive sound as much they feel able. First version “Radio Slave’s Brooklyn Dub” combines the dub influenced sound of early doors Underworld and Black Dog in an operatically menacing soundscape of chemical beat withdrawal. Second take, the “Panorama Garage” mix immediately punches its weight with a fierce, Dave Clarke Red 2 style opener beating a path through an oldschool cocktail of effects laden drops.

Last of the remixers to review, The Field follow up their recent album “From Here We Go To Sublime” with two adaptations of “Mongoose” that can only serve to enhance their deservedly reaching reputation. Reminding me a little of The Grid or FSOL, their “Floating Mix” is Tresor revisited, a sci-fi, twisting take on orchestral techno whilst the final mix of the eight, their “Disco Mix” is a summer 2008 classic in waiting. Very Renaissance and somewhat in the vein of B-Mex’s “Feel The Drop”, it takes on “Rez”, Orbital’s “Impact” and “Belfast” in a surging acid trax that will lay devastation across its wake at discerning festivals throughout the summer.

Second CD opens with edits of all four original releases, all resplendent with the same sharp excellence which made them highly sought after over the last six months. My only personal gripe is that the “Spangled Redub” of “Coma” fails to recapture the hook driven, artschool structure of the originally released mix but nonetheless all four are reproduced here with sufficient style and aplomb to convert those who’ve missed out thus far to the label’s cause, the uncompromising, jack your body bang of “Who Killed Sparky” proving testament to the label’s strength and individuality.

The Emfire Collection is a diverse and intriguing compilation that will prove manna from heaven for Sasha-ettes and a more than attentive listen for those with passing Progressive Techno interests. Retailing at a download challenging eight quid for the package, some six years after the wonderful, Macbeth quoting, Airdrawndagger, it’s great to have “El Sash” back on production duties. One of the most influential dancefloor producers of the last twenty years, although sometimes underappreciated, he remains a rare, bespoke, individualistic gem. The Emfire Collection rams that home in spades.

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