Stacey Pullen is perhaps one of the most underrated DJs in America. He’s from the old school — a Detroit pioneer and one of the few remaining names that can claim to have been around almost as long as the founding fathers of techno themselves. But his Balance 028 mix is something different. It’s not exactly the eargasm I got from Guy J, or the masterfully arranged opus Hernan Cattaneo delivered, or even the romping fun of Danny Howells or the chuggin’ tech-monster that Danny Tenaglia let loose on the world. And that’s why I love it. Stacey Pullen does his own thing; he’s true to himself and that’s why he’s a natural fit to carry the torch for the Balance legacy.
Disc 1 sets the mood with rEJEKTS’s “Strung Out In Reno” (Marc Ashken Remix) and slowly builds into Leman & Dieckmann’s “Stomp” and Folic State’s “Another (NoGo) Zone” (Gurwan Remix) before leading us down the path of earbud contentment with a few techy twists and tribal teases. There’s enough variety here to keep my ears interested, but it’s a pretty linear journey. The mix winds down with Sobek’s lush “Ubomi” and closes with Toby Dreher feat. Dirty Paul’s melodic and sexy “A Try” (Autotune Remix) and Huxley’s “I Want You” (Deetron Remix).
The second disc is a bit more dynamic, opening with Anderson Noise’s “UFO.” Pullen opens up his signature house/techno hybrid style and it really compliments the more straight-laced attitude of the first disc. We get to taste of a pair of Pullen exclusives (“Save Ourselves” and “I’m Coming,” which are both top cuts) before being dosed by Peter Gibney’s “Fine Lines” and seduced by Hoito’s trippy “Modern Kush.”
I almost want to say he’s got a no-frills approach to music, but that wouldn’t be accurate or fair. His sound is stripped down compared to a lot of the “EDM superstars” topping the lists nowadays, the ones that seem to put effects above the actual music. But Pullen certainly has a groove that all the cool bells and whistles and studio polish can’t capture.
That said, I’m not quite ready to put this on the shelf with my other favorite Balance compilations, but I certainly won’t hesitate to say this will fill that cold and relatively desolate span of winter months until the next club season kicks off in the spring. And that’s not to say it won’t eventually end up on my short list of great mixes. I’ve spun each disc back-to-back for several weeks and it’s really been growing on me. Like most of the other Balance albums, I hear something new every time I listen to it.