CD Review : Various Artists “Traffic”

Balanced has grown from a small Canadian prairie imprint to a sizable enterprise boasting alternative sounds including broken beat, down tempo, hip hop excursions and, now, house music. Traffic, their latest compilation, assembled largely under the direction of Solidaze, takes a look into the local Winnipeg scene of deep house, treating your ear to the newer sounds of the Balanced team, and the artists they have worked with recently.

One such newcomer, Leaf System (Rise Ashen, Kasm and The Seed Organization) were originally featured on previous compilation Link Pins, with Rocket Dub and Fisherman’s Dub, but here they get a newly revamped version with a more floor-friendly roots remix by Rise Ashen. Moses Mayes step into a new realm with “Being,” remixed by Solidaze, a beautifully crafted journey into deep house with a lovely Sade-esque vocal swooning over the melodies. It’s an interesting take on Moses Mayes, a crowd-friendly funk band best-known for spreading the word of soul and party vibes at their shows. On Traffic, however, they deliver floor-filling house, with a pounding beat that coaxes you to toss your arms in the air every once in awhile.

One particularly well-known name included here is Miguel Graca, who rerubs Rise Ashen’s “A Warning!” into a spectacular arrangement of deep drumming and soulful vocal stabs. Long-time fans of Nordic Trax will enjoy Gavin Froome’s take on “Anti-Animosity,” a track featuring a strong Sarah Michaelson vocal, walking bass-line and uplifting groove that carries on through the warm and bold array of keys floating in the mix.

Perhaps best of the few Solidaze solo efforts included is “Flight Response,” which immediately grabs your attention, and then sticks in your head for a long time. The Bill Withers-sampled guitar lick merges tempered chords with some soothing tribal drumming, coasting along the distinctly Latin-influenced groove right till the end.

In sum, Traffic is an impressive sampling of the Balanced roster, and should hopefully have you seeking out the other interesting and enjoyable efforts in their catalogue