While the label arm of Berlin’s Watergate can’t make use of the panoramic views and LED lighting that the club enjoys so readily, the quality of house and techno it puts out provides a little taste of the venue’s magic for those who can’t make it down to Kreuzberg at the weekend. Having already worked with the likes of dOP, Tiefschwarz and most recently Mathias Kaden for their compilation series, for the 15th instalment the reigns have been handed to the veteran house legend Kerri Chandler.
Born in New Jersey to a family of jazz musicians, Chandler was already playing records in clubs at the age of 13. Now having entered his third decade as both DJ and producer, Chandler comes loaded with the mixing mastery and popular esteem that only longevity can acquire.
For this compilation he looks to set out his vision of house as he currently sees it, incorporating a variety of styles that both look forward and stay true to his deep, soulful signature.
The opening section of the mix uses a higher intensity to make you sit up and take notice. The classic vocal styles of Detroit Swindle work into the propulsive rhythms of ‘Basic Fire’ by Headless Ghost, but then just as you think he’s going to continue building the bangers he takes his foot off the gas with the relaxed melody of the Chris Lattner remix of Huxley’s ‘Like One’. Some of the pace quickly returns before he drop his own exclusive production ‘Think of Something’, a typical slice of warming house vibes, crisp hi-hats and a thudding 4×4.
As the early intensity begins to subside Chandler alters the mood with ‘Feel It (Don’t Cha Know)’ from Clé, a searching, soulful groove that leads silkily into Italoboyz ‘Sti Drumsy’ with its stripped percussion and a bassline of pure funk. The sweet melody and vocal refrain of ‘Who Loves The Sun’ brings the mix down to its most mellow point with a relaxed, soothing vibe. Chandler then builds once more to another exclusive production in ‘Mama’, a collaboration with fellow house master Jerome Sydenham, its feather-light atmosphere and cheerful synth chords offset by a killer beat and jacking drums.
As we enter the final stretch the mood gets deeper and fuller with the Losoul remix of ‘Underpool’ and Nic Fanciulli’s reworking of ‘This Place’. As is the case throughout Chandler again drops in a track to briefly switch up the flow, this time the excellent ‘U Know U Know’ by Real Deal adding some lighter funk before we then go deep again with the Jamie Jones remix of Tom Demac’s ‘Crewcuts and Curls’. Refusing to let the mood settle for a moment we get a harder workout from DJ W!ld’s ‘Gorilla’, before eventually closing on the luscious, melting groove of ‘Le Velour’ from Shonky.
Like others who have lasted such a course the key to Chandler’s longevity has been innovation. He has developed tools to help him remix ‘live’ by incorporating other elements as the records play, and his decision to record this compilation live gives the mix an extra dynamic energy. Despite the quality of tracklist the most exciting moments come during the tensions of transition, which along with the variety he manages to lay down speaks of the craftsmanship that’s on display.
Watergate and Chandler have already enjoyed a fantastic relationship in the club for many years, and with this classy compilation they’ve given their fans a present they can take home with them.
‘Watergate 15’ is out 24th February on Watergate Records. Pre-order it here.