Between his impressive mix session for !K7′ ongoing DJ Kicks series (easily one of the strongest volumes to drop in recent memory) and a slew of warmly received 12″ releases alongside the likes of Jesse Rose, Dixon and Ame, Berlin-based producer / DJ Henrik Schwarz has certainly substantially expanded his fanbase over the last 12 months. In the wake of this increased attention, this debut album from Schwarz under his own name Live occupies a somewhat interesting position that sits partway between artist album and live / DJ mix. Recorded live all over the world during Schwarz’ global tour of last year and then sequenced in his Berlin studio, Live brings together a 16 track, 74 minute continuous mix that draws equally upon his remixes for other artists, as his own productions for its tracklisting.
Schwarz’ own re-edited version of Sun Ra’ “Lullaby For Realville’ gently opens proceedings on a downbeat jazzy note, with wheezing double-bass runs winding a lazy path against sparse snare beats and rich horn swells, shortly before things merge directly into the streamlined tech-house rhythms of Schwarz’ reworking of Kuniyuki’ “Earth Beats’, the tight kickdrums sliding into focus as twinkling clavinet keys fill the edges of the mix. The influence of Schwarz’ early love for acid jazz is certainly tangibly present in the funk / soul-derived grooves and tinkling piano elements that recur throughout much of the tracklisting, though it’s tempered by the inescapable ghost of Detroit techno that echos throughout his potent deployment of classic piano and 808 elements – see his heartbreaking / hypnotic reworking of Norwegian vocalist Mari Boine’ “Vuoi Vuoi’ for a prime example. Elsewhere, “Jimis’ injects some satisfying jacking tech elements along with some seriously jagged acid 303 textures, before Schwarz’ inspired tech-house centred reworking of James Brown’ “It’s A Man’ World’ shows him paying tribute to one of the true masters, as dark throbbing bass synths collide with noodly jazz keys. All factors considered, Live is an impressive debut album offering from Schwarz that sees him successfully capturing the fierce live energy of one of his DJ performances.