Synthesized is more than the title of Junkie XL’s sixth-studio release, it’s an underlying theme of the 11-track effort. Approaching middle-age, the electronic-maestro is still enjoying the crest of his career; pulling together diverse artists from across the electronic spectrum in an effort to celebrate the heritage, diversification, and explosion of dance music.
Born Tom Holkenborg in the Netherlands during the tail end of 1968, the producer has had a window seat for the multiple phases of MDMA-fueled club life; a synthesized mood enhancer that is central to multiple tracks within the LP. The relationship is overtly evident on the minimal ambient-house waves of album starter “Take Off On Molly’s E”, but Molly is also integral to the Isis Salam-featuring “Off the Dancefloor” (“We’re just a bunch of kids / lookin’ for fun under the sun never done til the party is / We can pop a couple pills / just lookin’ for a thrill”), and a key contributor to the love behind tech-house thumper “Synthesized”. For everyone that has experimented with the party pill knows that love is never more than a few uptempo beats away.
Junkie XL never allows the guests to dominate the tracks, synthesizing polished layers by merging the strengths of outside players with his own multi-genre prowess. The vocals of Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith may be the focal point of “When is Enough Not Enough”, but it’s a series of tightly fused loops that inspire the track title. With his well-versed fingers on the mixing board, “Gloria” (feat. Datarock) and “Kill The Band” arrive to the discotheque rocking a spiked leather jacket.
At 44, Junkie XL keeps his fingers on the pulse of what’s rocking dance halls. And with that age, the producer can now craft all-encompassing digital landscapes like “Twilight Tripping” and “The Art of Luxurious Intergalactic Time Travel”. So find some candy, jump aboard, and be transported to an era when P.L.U.R. was still the scene’s calling card.
Essential Tracks: “When Is Enough Not Enough”, “Twilight Tripping”