Many Hawtins coming at ya

Nov 2, 2005 at 12:00 am

About 10 minutes into Transitions, you reach an initial point of surrender. You’ve been brought to this place via carefully constructed rises of blended sounds and rhythms, and further teased by melodic circles, all bathed in a thickening meshwork of digital goo. At this moment in the mix, Hawtin is stitching six tracks together, each supplying independent energy and drama to the whole. It’s almost unnecessary to go further in describing this process — it’s more fun when experienced — but the Berlin-based Windsorite takes it upon himself to move beyond any musical borders. In fact, this 96-minute mix-CD already elevates documented DJ art to heights that haven’t previously been scaled.

The package comes with a DVD that shows song titles being added, dropped and mashed together. This is necessary because often he has six things going on simultaneously. So you can see and hear what’s riding on top, sizzling underneath or charging into the mix from around the bend.

Transitions is the third in a series of DE9 mixes that began with Decks, EFX & 909 in 1999. Two years later, it resumed with Closer to the Edit, until now considered the benchmark in digital-mix recording. That CD brought Final Scratch, a live performance program that combines analog and digital technologies, to the fore; on Transitions, Hawtin showcases Ableton Live and ProTools software, reducing and remixing hundreds of sampled tracks, rolling out architecture you can dance to in 5.1 surround sound.

The highlights are here, there, everywhere — and gone. But listen for edits of tracks by Detroiters Carl Craig, Rob Hood, Matthew Dear and the Detroit Grand Pubahs, whose “Dr. Bootygrabber” does exactly that about 40 minutes inside the matrix. Hawtin samples himself all over here, but to no better effect than on the closing suite combining a track by Plastikman (“I Don’t Know”) with another by Underground Resistance. He leaves us with several doubting questions, including: “Do I have a life/or am I just living?” and an answer born of faith, hope and clarity: “Just point yourself in the direction of your dreams ... and make your transition.”

Walter Wasacz writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].