One of Europe’s most in-demand electronic music engineers turned star in his own right, Hannes Bieger’s no-shortcuts approach to making wondrous melodic house and techno makes him an ideal candidate to provide a truly special mix for the long-running Balance series.
Since stepping back into the light as an artist, he has released on leading labels like Bedrock Records, Poker Flat Records, Tronic and Awesome Soundwave, topped the Beatport Progressive House Chart, provided a guest mix for John Digweed’s legendary Transitions radio show and taken his scintillating, analog gear-heavy live show across, from D.Edge in Sao Paolo to Awakenings in Amsterdam to Watergate in Berlin. Balance snare him just as he begins his ascent into the uppermost echelons of dance music.
Comprised of all-exclusive music from Bieger, his friends and collaborators, this mix capitalises on the fact that he was gearing up for another artist album. Instead, the music he’d been saving up for his next LP appears here, alongside music sourced from people he’s been working in tandem with in the studio. “As an engineer and producer, I am working with many ‘A-List’ artists in this industry, but also with a fresh new faces. So, I decided to make my Balance Series not only a platform for my own music, but to view it also as a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the up and coming artists I am working with.” Well-established scene legends like Gui Boratto, Victor Ruiz and Rodriguez Jr. also feature alongside these upcoming names.
Bieger wastes no time in getting down to business, whetting our appetite with the throbbing bass, jagged synths and heavenly vocals of ‘The Butterfly & The Bee’, a collaboration with French-Lebanese producer Yet More. Tripolism’s ‘Volta’ segues in beautifully, with more dulcet female vocals adding a sweetness to the chromatic bassline scales and squelching synth mutations. ALX’s ‘Beyond Light’ draws in a hypnotic arpeggio that pulls teasingly in and out of focus while snatches of rasping synths cut through the darkness, and Bieger’s ‘Alluvium’ goes into deeper territory, channeling golden era trance with its sorrowful lead line—but keeping things restrained with its introspective feel.
Acidic bass pressure abounds on Rafa Silva’s ‘Prosodia’, the moody vibe intensified by bold, heavily reverbed snatches of arpeggiated melody, before Thies Dry’s ‘Nomad’ comes through like a sledgehammer with its intense blasts of buzzing bass and fizzing white noise. Jason Lange’s stunning ‘Nebula’ sends tingles up the spine with its endlessly modulating, intricate melodies, leading into the blissful vocals, scintillating bitcrushed arpeggios and acid squelch of Bieger and Luna Semara’s glorious ‘Lose Control’.
The second half of the mix is comprised exclusively of tracks by Bieger himself. His collaboration with Rodriguez Jr. ‘Orca’ pulls us into a deeper place once again, but still heady pitch-bending melody abounds on this dreamy workout, while ‘Embers’ is a pure scene-setting, brooding, atmospheric mood piece. The masterful Gui Boratto lends a hand on the spectacular ‘Requiem’, featuring one of the mix’s most memorable riffs and a lot of apocalyptic big room energy, and Hawaii’s Olivia Foxglove weighs in on the dizzying riffs and techy rhythms of ‘Lucid Dream’. It’s left to Bieger & Victor Ruiz’s ‘Virtual Love’ to close the mix in triumphant fashion with its rousing chord progressions and intense climax of thick, resplendent synth tones.
The mix has the curious and pleasing effect of warping time. Each track is a journey within itself, and when painstakingly fused together, their ebbs, flows and mutations give the impression that a considerably longer time has passed than 77-minute runtime. The second disc strips away the beats, creating a ‘Synthapella’ version of the mix that allows the glorious melodies and atmospheres to be experienced in all their unadulterated power. It’s as captivating a ride as the first disc, but the feel is markedly and surprisingly different when the pounding rhythms are stripped away. “I think my name somehow stands for a certain musicality” he says of the underlying foundations of these majestic tracks. “I always strive to make music that is not “just“ dance music. My goal is to create “songs“.”
Taking the multi-tracks of each production and editing the various parts to provide the best segued listening experience, Bieger has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make this a perfectly crafted ride. That’s what happens when you ask a producer-engineer-live artist to make a ‘DJ’ mix…