House Music Reviews

Mauro Norti – Placebo (CHANGE AUDIO)

It’s been a long time coming, but the first release from Mark B’s new label CHANGE AUDIO is finally here. First out of the gate is ‘Placebo’ from the incredibly talented young producer from Belarus, Mauro Norti, with remixes from Jimmy Van M, Rob Hes, Nomad in the Dark, and Mondkrater. So has it been worth the wait?

Mauro Norti’s brand of futuristic melodic techno has already made an impact this year, with a series of strong releases on Agara Music, klangwelt, Sound Avenue, Inlab, Stereo Paradise, PFL, and a truly beautiful track for the label he recently set up with Mondkramer and Indieveed, Ideological. But as impressive as his recent work has been, I don’t think any of it quite prepares you for ‘Placebo’; this is quite simply the best record Mauro Norti has made. Pushing off with just a kick drum and a buzzing synth, waves of intricate melodies immediately start to weave themselves around the track. Clipped hi-hats gently climb out of the mix before the percussion swings fully into action, while otherworldly sweeps drape the track in melancholy. A glistening breakdown offers a brief respite, before those mind-bending melodies creep bubble up again, and ‘Placebo’ takes off one more. This is utterly beautiful stuff, and easily one of my personal favourites of the year so far.

The first remix comes from Jimmy Van M, with input from Mark B. This is probably the version that reinterprets the track to the greatest degree, turning it into a techy-stormer. Crisp percussion and a heavy rolling bassline underwrite snippets of the original looped and twisted into a busy, revolving , Neat little bleeps add even more texture and urgency, while hand-claps the size of Texas create huge forward momentum. The remix builds and builds in intensity, leading to one of the biggest drops you’re likely to hear all year.

Rob Hes offers an altogether dreamier take on Mauro Norti’s original, offsetting a rumbling bassline against abstract melodies that gently echo Mauro Norti’s original. The high point here is the spacey breakdown, before the remix absolutely slams back in, the bassline really driving things forward. Really nice work from Hes on this one.

Nomad in the Dark was responsible for two of my favourite remixes of last year, Seb Dhajje’s ‘Fifth Season’ and NameSpace’s ‘Not Found’, and so I’ve been very much looking forward to hearing his take on ‘Placebo’. He doesn’t disappoint, dropping the tempo down to 120, and layering shimmering loops from the original and weird vocal snippets over a low-slung bass. The breakdown here is really spectacular too, creating one of the loveliest and most memorable moments on the EP.

Mondkrater turns in a characteristically melodic and driving interpretation, a motoring bassline ploughing its way through your skull, while melting synths sweeten the deal just the right amount. Fans of melodic techno are really spoiled for choice here, but I slightly preferred this to Rob Hes’s version, since it puts a bit more distance between itself and Mauro Norti’s original and there’s a bit more power and energy to it.

This is an astonishing pack of remixes which will appeal to DJs of all persuasions, but in the end it’s Mauro Norti’s original that really stands out for me, proving what an inspired choice to kick off the label he was. Don’t be fooled by the name; this isn’t any placebo, this is unmistakably the real thing. 9/10

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