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Sasha: Involver



Album: Involver
Label: Global Underground

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Sasha operates in the outsized world of trance, a popularly revered but critically ignored genre that finds dance music entertaining its best and worst whims. Shiny and synthetic to the end, trance has no mythology, no geography—nothing to root it anywhere but the big clubs in which it serves as a transporting soundtrack. One worldly holdover of trance, however, is hagiography, which grants certain DJ-producers the status of the sainted shaman.

Sasha is arguably trance's biggest star, whether alone or as part of a fêted duo with his more aggressive foil, John Digweed. After a few mix projects that lit up Billboard's dance charts, Sasha made his "artist album" debut with 2002's Airdrawndagger, a mellow surprise that floated through ambient outgrowths. The new Involver aims more forcefully at the dance floor, but even at his most rhythmic, Sasha serves up ripe musicality and enough melodrama to serve as the center of a brooding movie.

Doing double duty as a DJ and producer, Sasha weaves 10 "remixed, re-produced and/or re-edited" tracks into a mix set that calls on other names while bearing Sasha's distinctive stamp. Grand National's "Talk Amongst Yourselves" starts off with a punk-funk kick, working melodic bass-guitar over languid drums that create an expectant mood. From there, the album builds slowly and methodically toward a sort of wary rapture. Shpongle's "Dorset Perception" signals trance's pan-global glide, laying Middle Eastern yelps over Spanish guitar and monastic hums. Spooky's "Belong" stands at the album's clubbier end, all four-four drum thump and swirling electronics. Sasha holds out a few surprises—including a bruising remix of Felix Da Housecat—but Involver mostly shows his hand as a master of expensive, expansive trance.