Various Artists Ultraviolet 1
Visionquest hits the 50-release mark with a three-disc retrospective.
Right out of the gate, Ultraviolet 1, the sprawling new three-disc compilation from Team Visionquest, hits you with Benoit & Sergio’s “Walk And Talk.” It’s a fitting choice to lead off the proceedings—not just because it was the first track the label ever released, and not just because its one of its biggest tunes to date. No, what makes “Walk And Talk” such a fitting starting point for Ultraviolet 1 was that it was one of the defining club cuts of 2011: Its vibe was the epitome that foggy, chuggy, druggy feel that for a time ruled a certain sector of clubdom. (The fact that the barely-there vocals mentioned ketamine a lot is merely icing on the cake.)
It’s also a sound that, fairly or not, came to define Visionquest—run by Shaun Reeves, Ryan Crosson and Lee Curtiss, with cofounder Seth Troxler now off on his own. That fuzzy-headed vibe dominates on Ultraviolet 1′s first disc. Ewan Pearson’s remix of Footprintz’s “Utopia” anchors cooing vocals, undulating synths, and a gorgeous, minor-key melody to its loping rhythm; “Let Me In,” by Laura Jones, revels in a kind of pillow-soft grandeur, her yearning murmurs giving the song its emotional heft; and Maceo Plex’s “Fallin'” is pure dream-state disco. Even the disc’s most salacious number, Lee Curtiss’s “Body Twitch,” comes off as much like a blurry (albeit sleazy) come-on from your funny, inebriated pal as it does an invitation to a truly dangerous rendezvous.
But Visionquest’s scope has widened since the label’s hazy, crazy early days. Its A&R department hasn’t exactly gone all clearheaded, exactly—but on a few tracks on the first disk, and the bulk of the second, the ambiance is crisper and the mood is more far-ranging. “Touch,” from Rework, all percolating bass and propulsive pace, is a full-on jacker; My Favorite Robot’s much-played “Forest Fires” grounds its trance-esque arpeggios and longing vocals (a reoccurring Visionquest motif) to a whip-snap rhythm; and Clarian & Guy Gerber’s “Claire,” another big one for the label, cuts through the smoke with a melody that approaches something like grandeur.
One person’s wide scope is another’s lack of focus, of course, and after so many releases—Ultraviolet 1 marks number 50 for Visionquest—one could make the argument that the label’s later-day emphasis on diversification, however subtle, has led to a slight loss of its focused aesthetic. DJ Three does his best to prove the cynics wrong on CD3, a continuous mix titled “Laterna Magika” consisting of 17 tunes that didn’t make it onto the other discs. (It’s a testament to Visionquest’s depth that, even at 39 tracks total, Ultraviolet 1′s quality rarely flags.) Three’s mix, despite including tracks that meander from the strutting tech-soul of Wareika’s “Madame Scorpion” and Balearic bliss of Merveille & Crosson’s “The Day You Left” to the otherworldly aura of Pezzner’s”The Island Fantastic” and the sacred minimalism of Riccardo Rizza “Clut,” coheres it all into a pleasure-filled groove. Time will tell if Visionquest can keep the goods coming for another 50 releases—but for now, we’ll just enjoy what the label’s accomplished so far.