Once every few years a game-changing album will accelerate the evolution of electronic dance music. The Prodigy added punk rock aggression to the scene in 1992 (Experience), the Chemical Brothers became the Beatles of club-land in 1995 (Exit Planet Dust) and Moby introduced the world to the tuneful, down-tempo side of e-music in 1999 (Play). In the '00s, much of the progression happened behind the scenes and in studios where technology forged new ways of layering, mixing and matching sounds. The music became more polished than ever, but rarely was there a sense that dance music had leapt forward like it had in the 1990s.
When Joris Voorn's Balance 014 mix-CD was released early this year, it put those evolutionary refinements on the front burner while setting a new template for the future of the DJ-mixed compilation. The two-disc collection uses 102 tracks that Voorn edited, organized and orchestrated via Ableton Live software. The result is a brooding, beautiful journey the likes of which have rarely been seen in club culture. While DJs such as Richie Hawtin and Sasha paved the way with Ableton-produced mixes of their own, few used the software to its fullest, as did Voorn: He deconstructed tracks, using only select loops, bits and pieces, and put them back into the flow at will. He transformed other people's music into his digital orchestra. A postmodern lesson has been taught: Basic, song-after-song mix-CDs will never again measure up. Voorn, as DJs' DJ Danny Tenaglia said, is "the future."
The Amsterdam-based spinner is in Newport Beach tonight to demonstrate his atomic-level DJing. His club style is more techno, less-melodic than the sublime Balance release, but his mastery of dance music will nonetheless be in full effect.
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Voorn DJs tonight at Giant at Code, 4221 Dolphin Striker Way, Newport Beach. 21+. Doors at 9. $12 express entry; free with RSVP. Info: giantclub.com.