Toolroom Knights: A Journey Through The World’s Finest House Music
Various- Mixed by Mark Knight
London Mixmaster and Toolroom Records label head, Mark Knight released an international version of a stunning two-disc set in September. The Ministry of Sound resident takes center stage with the fourth album in the label’s compilation series that officially released in May 2008.
The world-renowned DJ collaborates with other turntable aficionados from around the world and this compilation truly is a fantastic voyage through every fascinating aspect of a musical culture. From start to finish, the sound progresses into a world of vibrant color, energy and anything that could possibly describe a good time at a club. While the first CD showcases a wide spectrum of house music from all parts of the global, mainly the European scene, the second CD breathes new life into the genre with complex mixing and innovative grooves.
The start to this journey begins with a delicate string section and soothing vocals on “Bring on the Night,” by Cloud Kickers featuring Marcus, reprised by Mark Knight. A dream-like tempo transitions into a mid-temp dance beat with a soulful attitude.
“How Do I Let Go” (Charles Webster Deep Mix) by American house bigwig Dennis Ferrer featuring KT Brooks has is an interesting vocal manipulation going on throughout the song, once the vocals hit. “Chatterbox,” by Terry Lee Brown Jr. has a deceiving song title because it is an instrumental piece and the tempo stays pretty mellow within the lounge music range.
The highlight of the first CD goes to “Reach” (Mark Knight Remix) by Lil’ Mo’ Ying Yang, also know as Louie Vega and Erick Morillo. The suspenseful quality of the track and the vocal echoes make it very fascinating. It starts to pick-up five minutes into it and all of a sudden a deep, haunting voice asks, “Do you remember your first time?” British Funkagenda lends a hand at this apparent reflective dance floor moment.
A new set of related questions returns in “North Central” by Negano Kitchen. It is a bit of a whimsical tune and the voice returns with the aid of Mark Knight and Adam K: “Do you remember your first time? The first time you stepped on the dance floor, the first time you realized that this is exactly where you want to be.” Drenched in sweat with messy hair, I can imagine avid club hoppers collectively nodding in dehydrated approval.
Two fantastic additions are “Scratch and Sniff,” by highly touted Nic Fanciulli, and “Tropical Heights,” by James Mowbray and Leiam Sullivan. These British artists have hot tempos to work with, but the duo stands out. The line, “a little fuck you from the speakers,” is an entertaining lyric, obviously, and this track is more heavily, deeply rooted in house compared to the other mid-tempo tracks found on the first disc. If played loud enough, this could rock the socks off of L.A. hot spots.
Closing out the first disc, Mark Knight remixes “Beautiful Burnout” by Underworld. The ambiance is electric and it transitions to something completely different. The electronic voice adds a futuristic element, which signals a sneak preview of disc two. However, the crash effect leaves a very anti-climactic feeling.
In disc two, Mark Knight showcases the future state of house music with an experimental extravaganza of sound. “Windrose” by Germany’s Funkwerkstatt has a funky melody with raunchy lyrics. In addition to the female vocalist and her scandalous confessions, listen for the great change-up two minutes into the song.
Similar to a recurring dream, the “Do you remember?” guy makes an appearance three times in a row, starting with “Go Deep,” by Chris Special and Adam S. Instead of insightful anecdotes, he is just an echo shout-out to the last disc.
An interesting alarm rings through “Magic,” by Mescal Kid Steve Angello, but I’m trying to find the magic in this song. Quite frankly, I’ll most likely get it from the drugs I’ll be taking out in the dance floor or in VIP with Lindsey Lohan- whichever comes first.
“With Me or Against Me” (Tocadisco’s Carnaval in Rio Mix) sounds like a plan. British mix gods D. Ramirez and TC provide a fun little party song with a simple plea: “party til’ the daylight.” The vibrant song is on the right track for the devoted after-hour crowd.
The most up-tempo segment of any song on both discs is found on “Washmachine,” by Workidz. Hailing from Budapest, this artist gets very technical and it is boldly orchestrated. Bravo to what sounds like the take-off of a rocket ship at the end.
It all comes down to the finale track entitled “Gate One,” by Elvis Benait and Tony Gomez. An electronic voice gives a shout-out to many people including the legendary innovators, Daft Punk. This song has a heightened feeling to it and it builds up to a poppin’ beat that really elevates this piece to a new level. I could hear the drinks pouring as well as people lining up outside to get in. After last call, all there is left is the music.
Even though house music has a specialized targeted audience and its popularity most likely escapes the average American radio-listener, the rest of the world seems to embrace the electronic sound. Buckle under the peer pressure folks, and take a hit of this because the future of house music looks brighter than ever.