Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mark Farina :: Live in Tokyo

Mark Farina :: Live in TokyoArtist :: Mark Farina
Album :: Live in Tokyo
Label :: Om Records

In a word :: Momentous

There are some names that are synonymous with the genre they've helped to build. I say Juan Atkins; you say Techno. I say Aphex Twin; you say IDM. I say Mark Farina; and you damn well better be saying house.

From his Warehouse days in Chi-town alongside his brother-from-another-mother, Derrick Carter, to his migration to San Francisco and his work with Om Records, Mark Farina is a staple of house music. From minimal, to deep, to mid-tempo, there's nothing he can't (or won't) spin a set around. And he is a DJ who spins a lot.

The normal progression in DJ culture if for artists to cut their teeth spinning vinyl and building a name that way. After awhile, when enough people know him, said DJ will cut a record of original material and go that route. Some even go so far as to abandon the DJ set altogether to make their own tracks. Mark Farina is not your normal DJ. And he never has been.

Mark FarinaWhile he has some of his own tracks out, Mark Farina is a DJ first. He enjoys international fame for spinning records, because he does it better than most anybody else. Could he put out albums of his own material? Sure he could. He'd probably sell a respectable amount, too. But that is not his game. He doesn't transcend into that realm. Rather, he is a Bodhisattva of the beat, bringing other artists into the spotlight where they can get noticed. And for a house artist, being in a Mark Farina mix that gets released is like being on Oprah. He takes talented artists and puts them in the spotlight.

He makes the magic happen. He is the DJ.

But why? Why is he so good? What is it about Mark Farina, out of the thousands of DJs in the world, that makes him stand out? I'll give you a clue, the answer is closer than you think. It's because he's a lot like you and me. Before he is a DJ, he is a music fanatic.

You know what it's like when you have friends over, and you've got this disc you want them to listen to because it is so good and you know they haven't heard it before, and they absolutely have to hear it! But before that song is done, you are already excited because you just thought of something they else they have to hear! And the kicker is that you know they aren't enjoying it as much as you are, because they just don't get it. They are not music fans, like you...like Mark Farina. It's that familiarity in a Mark Farina mix. He gives you stuff you've never heard before and does it at a time when you need nothing more in the world than that track.

And he does it mix after mix, never the same mix twice.

That's the magic. That's the DJ at work.

On Live in Tokyo, Mark Farina delivers again. This time he does it like you haven't heard him on a release before. In the past, I've enjoyed his work as it slowly builds, wave upon wave, peaking then rescinding. This time, however, it's different. Taking a mid-tempo groove and weaving it through different house genres like glitch house and soul house, the whole disc slowly builds until about 3/4 of the way through when cuts like Ken ECB's "I Heart Bougie (Toka Project Mix)" and Daniel Cummings's "Deep Heat" are pumping, you feel the crescendo of the mix building. No tempo changes. No key changes. Just a steady increase of intensity that is the DJ making his magic in time.

It's rare that a mix CD really seems to capture the energy of the live show. Then again, Mark Farina is a rare DJ. And Live in Tokyo rare is mix.

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