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[Off The Record]
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Max Graham

Somewhere between the third and the fourth volume of this immensely popular mix-CD series, the franchise underwent a name change, from Tranceport to Transport. A seemingly innocuous alteration, but it says a lot about the music within. Canadian Max Graham helms the turntables this time, and he shelves the anthemic style of DJ music — all gooey melodies and hooky synths — that made earlier volumes by Paul Oakenfold and Sandra Collins such a guilty pleasure.

On Transport 4, Graham, like a lot of other globetrotting DJs, moves away from the stereotypical trance sound, opting for two discs full of what electronica mavens are calling progressive house (or just " progressive " ). Which is partly an obvious attempt by hunters of cool to stay ahead of the oh-so-uncool masses, who gobble up mainstream trance like high-grade MDMA. But there are some very slight differences between the two styles, and Graham’s mix, for better or worse, exemplifies the progressive sound. Which means that it’s focused more on trippy effects and rhythmic play — intricate accents pull at the robotic 4/4 thump like taffy — than on melody. This makes for good dancing, but all the buzzing, whooshing, and swirling doesn’t really translate outside the club environment. Disc #1 is an eclectic ride, jumping from new-age segues to thick tribal percussion, but Graham comes off as too reserved. He delivers a tastefully mixed and expertly engineered CD that never takes the Dionysian plunge over the edge.

(Max Graham spins at Axis tonight, May 17. Call 617-423-NEXT.)


Issue Date: May 17 - 23, 2001

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