As a classically trained musician, producer, DJ and vocalist, the talents of Ben Westbeech reach into almost every facet of the music world, although we’re yet to hear anything on his dance moves. He’s made D&B under his Lean moniker, spanned funky and soulful house under his own name, and this year enjoyed the commercial success of dancefloor destroyer and top ten hit ‘Jack’ with his Breach alias. With the added notoriety filling up his tour calendar, he then got the call from !K7 to oversee the next instalment of the legendary DJ Kicks series, and what a fine choice it’s turned out to be.
While daytime Radio 1 listeners might be hoping for a collection of catchy house hooks in a bid to extend the vibrancy of ‘Jack’ over a full hour, the stylish and sophisticated selection that Westbeech has opted for is both richly enjoyable and effortlessly put together. Reflecting the music he looks to use when playing in clubs, it’s deep, soulful, combines hidden 90’s gems with exclusive new material, and shows that his love of music is as good as his taste.
The eerie whirring of Innercity’s ‘Prince Of The Immortal Woods’ offers a steady intro before the delightful strings and quietly emotive vocals of ‘Triangle Vision’ kick things off properly. When the warm bass of Beesmunt Soundsystem’s ‘All Day’ is then brought in the sense of quality and depth is quickly established; it’s lush atmospheric house groove setting the bar for what’s to follow.
The tempo then takes a subtle step up with the shuffling drums of Fred P’s ‘It Is What Is Is’, the long beautiful strings creating an air of considered reflection as the mix slowly builds, a theme continued with the thoughtful vocals of Pedestrian’s ‘Hoyle Road’. The rattling percussion of ‘My Secret Diving’ by Coni gives the mood a darker edge and moves things into more of a techno rhythm, paving the way for Breach’s exclusive new tune ‘Beroving’, another stylish house cut with understated quality and plenty of purpose in its bouncy bass notes.
Increasingly soulful house vibes continue through the Dusky remix of ‘My Way’, eventually reaching Iron Galaxy’s brilliant ‘Attention Seeker’, which flows from squelchy bass and skittering drums to dreamy beds and stirring keys. Playing Dopplereffekt’s ‘ZBoson’ at a high tempo adds a twinkly space-age feel, before Redinho’s ‘Searching’ kicks the mood into vibrant celebration.
Before rounding things off on the more mellow note of Sabre’s ‘Nightdrive To Bolland’, Westbeech digs out the 1994 track ‘How’s The Magic’ by Winx, a former alias of Josh Wink. A metronomic beat with minimal production complemented by classic vocal samples, it’s a typical example of how Wink can build atmosphere, tension and driving rhythm using very little.
An intriguing selection of substance and quality, thoughtfully constructed and absorbing throughout, Westbeech’s first mix CD is a silky smooth blend of soul, style and pulsing rhythms, and a worthy addition to the DJ Kicks series. With the commercial success of ‘Jack’ bringing him a whole new set of fans, this will ensure he’ll keep plenty of admirers in the ‘underground’ as well.
Pre-Order Breach DJ-Kicks here. Out Nov 18th (EU) & Nov. 26th (US) on !K7