Created over the span of two years, Balance 032 marks a creative high point in the career of Madrid-based artist Henry Saiz, and this marks his third appearance for the hallowed compilation series. Spread over an expansive three discs, it has given him the space to curate a truly stunning odyssey of creative expression, one influenced by everything from AI to his recent ADHD diagnosis.
As ever, he has gone above and beyond to ensure that the mix is crammed full of exclusive, unreleased material, with nearly 75% of the music included, both from himself, and many of his favourite producers and collaborators, from unknowns through to household names like Röyksopp. “Since I’ve done two Balance compilations already, I didn’t want to repeat myself” he says. “My first, ‘Balance 19’, was very important for my career and I knew people would be comparing it with this new one, so I put a lot of effort into it to make it more attractive and to be able to gain more control in the final product sound-wise.” – Henry Saiz Created in Ableton, which he uses for his DJ sets due to its unlimited creative functionality and precision (“I get bored easily with CDJs”), the mix makes great use of many effects, layerings, and production techniques to enhance the beautiful sounds that lie within.
Part 1 takes a freestyle approach to find a sweet spot between home listening and club warm-up vibes, all woven together through a narrative about the connection between the past, the future, the reinterpretation of old concepts, and AI. “I used a lot of AI techniques to add creativity to the songs, from cloning vocals to generate atmospheres, to creating grooves using text-to-music always like a tool in order to add to, and not to replace human creativity. Ideally, we will work with AI as a co-pilot also in the studio to make boring technical process faster and focus more on what really matters: ideas to bring our human experience into the music form.” – Henry Saiz
Packed with symbols and messages, its changing tempos span the creepy vaporwave intro of Hal Incandenza’s ‘I Know What You Are’ – setting the tone perfectly with an AI voice telling a human “I know what you are, I know where you come from\\\” – through to chugging electronica, dubby grooves, Indian rhythm, Balearic spoken word, sparkly breakbeats and teases of the clubbier sounds that await in the next disc. The euphoric climax of Saiz’s rework of Swedish duo Genius of Time’s recent release ‘Sunswell’ is the perfect bridge into the next mix, a whirling firework of pretty melody and spine-tingling arpeggiation. The breadth and surprises of this first disc would have made it a standout piece of work on its own, but of course that’s never enough for Saiz.
Part 2 leans towards the sounds of Henry Saiz in club mode, beginning with the warm blanket of sumptuous Milio’s ‘Dew’, building gradually and flitting between the deep and the soaring. From lush progressive house to the heavenly breaks of Brassica’s epic ‘Celestial Suspension’ through some truly staggering new psychedelically tinged material from Saiz, it’s a mix packed with magical melody. The disc crescendos with the shimmering riffs of Henry Saiz & Imalgi’s ‘Kickboxer’ (released as a single on 13th October to mark the Balance 032 announcement), where synths are made to weep digital tears, and the stunning liquid breaks and heartfelt vocals of Moonlight Wolves ‘All I Need (Third Son Remix)’. As ever, all is not what it seems in his sets, with heavy editing making these truly unique versions. “People try to Shazam my sets and usually don’t get the ID because of all the heavy editing I do while I play. Lately I learned this hyperactivity and need for challenging projects that motivates me comes from my ADHD. So, I guess the DNA of my sets would be coherent eclecticism but also a melodic journey that changes and evolves straight to a climax.” – Henry Saiz
The final chapter of this sprawling compilation explores the increasing tempos of the current era, expanding Saiz’s DNA into new territory while maintaining all the classy elements of his sound.
“The current vogue for faster tempos may be due to the constant stimulation we get from technology and how we process information nowadays. My DJ style has become faster because the world is going faster. My DJ sets are now moving through 110 to 140 bpm territories. I didn’t enjoy much music with faster BPMs a few years ago because it felt very overwhelming and had too many elements, but now people are producing music that works great at faster speeds because they have less elements and a groove that works that way. As long as the track takes you somewhere and makes you feel something through melody, that’s what counts for me.” – Henry Saiz A deep and spacey feel early on with plenty of dubby touches gives way to meatier sounds, psychedelic tones woven into the heavier rhythms as the tempos gradually creep upwards and elements of trance abound through a flurry of Saiz exclusives. A grandstand finish is guaranteed by way of his incredible chugging-based rework of Moonlight Wolves’ ‘Mantra’, the light dreamy beauty of Henry Saiz & Somfay’s ‘To Steal a Star from The Night’ and the intense synth overload of H. Haze’s ‘La Fuerza’. A perfect end to a truly remarkable body of work.