Wednesday, September 1, 2004


Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Far more than just another club compilation, this two-disc set is a veritable turntable tutorial on how to professionally mix wax trax — minus the turntables and the wax. That’s because 23-year-old phenom James Zabiela totally eschews the trad attitude and spins CDs and DVDs instead of vinyl. And unlike other DJs who are content to merely cross fade the beginning and ending of each song, on ALiVE Zabiela actually mixes the entire contents of all 27 tracks in real time, direct to disc, simultaneously using four mixers and a effector unit.

Remember that “intro” track on Something/Anything? where Todd Rundgren gave an audio primer on how a recording studio works? How quaint. Or the back of Discreet Music when Eno provided a diagrammed explanation of how to properly link two Revox tape recorders together to create a looped tape delay? How 20th century.

On ALiVE, Zabiela supplies seven pages of detailed, time-coded liner notes on how he achieved the effects on both discs. So any time a specific sound catches your ear, you can flip to the corresponding notation and read:

“03:11 – I’m using the Wide Pitch with the Master Tempo on, making continuous loop adjustments. Each phrase is Hot Cued. While I’m doing all this the other record has broken down and I’ve looped the wind sound (03:54). I’m also using the Master Tempo at -100% and taping in the samples by sliding the pitch up a bit and back to …” Well, you get the idea.

Best of all, when the tech talk starts wearing you down, you can always get up offa that thing and dance till you feel better.

E-mail Jeffrey Morgan at


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