Party Groove: White Party Volume 6
Centaur Music is a cool little company that’s centered in the gay house music scene, and it’s a blessing to have a label dedicated to our brand of dance groove since, as we all know, it’s far superior to what’s being spun in the straight clubs…there’s just no putting that over in a less horn-tooting way, and why bother? It’s the truth, and we’ve all known it for quite some time. Even our straight club-going cousins know it. That’s why we see them out at ‘our’ nightspots more and more with each passing year.
There certainly are gradations of quality within our upper crust, however, and David Knapp is by far one of the most highly regarded club and circuit party disc jockeys that the gay world has ever seen. The difficulty that plagues many a circuit-soundtrack collection is that the energy of the party itself - being out on that floor with all those sweaty men, listening to a myriad of outspoken and overweight divas dole out instructions on how to move, feel, love, and maintain a spiritual condition, simply cannot be canned – it’s not for sale. What works out on the dance floor is not guaranteed to work in your living room, on the Stairmaster, or in your car. Taken within that context, “White Party 6” holds up some of the time.
Knapp is well-tuned to the gay beat, so he knows better than to throw too much dub into his mix – bottom line? Gay boys love vocal mixes. Kicking off with Ralphi Rosario’s mix of Alyson’s “Feel You” presents a near perfect blend of pop fluff with techno blasts of noise. And it’s evident that hit radio isn’t the only place that’s been taken over by the Latino mystique – there is a libidinous Latino thread that runs all the way through “White Party 6.”
Next up is Vic Calderone’s celebrated mix of the Shape-UK (Shapeshifters) righteous smash, “Lola’s Theme,” which has little or no Latin rhythm in it’s original incarnation – but Calderon’s mix definitely kicks up some cha-cha for certain. Knapp continues building upward with “La Noche” from Coca & Villa Featuring Pepe Rubio, the highlight of which is a lovely ambient acoustic guitar breakdown in the song’s center. He then switches continents for Amber’s new “You Move Me,” which has a heavy Middle Eastern element to it – and at this point, the ethnic shift is a welcome change.
Unfortunately, that’s the best the collection has to offer right there. Knapp heads back to the Latin underground with Ralphi Rosario (again) on “Mas Energia,” but it’s an utterly forgettable track, and Marijn Van Helden & Mark Knight’s ‘Toolroom Mix’ of Soul Central’s update on the ’old school’ classic, “Strings of Life,” ends up a repetitive mess of key-generated noise and housey piano that’s inspiring of nothing more than a fierce headache. Likewise, the wimpy-assed new Vic & Chicola Featuring Mickiyagi spin on the Manilow classic, “Could It Be Magic” offers NOTHING the rivals recent ‘new millennium’ remixes of the original.
There are a couple of refreshing moments left here and there – Tony Moran’s mix of Raw Deal’s “Party Time” packs a wallop, and the otherworldly melody in Dave Hanson & Twisted Dee’s “Autumn Beguine” testifies to Knapp’s ear for the unusual. And the segue ways are seamless throughout.
But the difficulty in taking your dance mix ‘to go’ resurfaces – the flaws evident in some of these tracks might go unnoticed if we weren’t listening to them at home, or on the Stairmaster, or in the car. If we were out on the dance floor with all those sweaty men, we’d be letting Knapp worry about making sure our hips stayed in a constant state of rotation, and we certainly wouldn’t be putting the tracks under the microscope that yielded the above criticism – they’re not built for such scrutiny. It defies and defiles the DJ’s mission to try and bottle his art as a commercial commodity, especially when so much of the product’s freshness gets lost in the settling that occurs during transit.
by David Knapp