Russia's Andrei Zakharov, known worldwide as An-2, is the man behind some of the most memorable vinyl to hit the decks over the past few years. His productions on Germany's Was Not Was and his own Theomatic label stand out in the house and so-called "nu disco" genres, less sample-based tracks than original and fully-formed songs, with depth, melody, movement, and strange, otherworldly soul. The "nu disco" craze all too often seems about mere flavors of the month; Andrei's deep tech house epics and spaced-out midtempo jams, on the other hand, are sturdy and lasting, staying faithful to the spirit and feel of the deep and Balearic side of 80's italo disco.
I've been following An-2's production career since the very beginning. This started by coincidence. While living in Ecuador in 2003 and 2004, I frequently deejayed with a Russian guy named Alex who, at one point, handed me a mix CD that a friend of his had made. At the time, Ecuador was all about progressive house and trance, and I was correspondingly frustrated and turned off music in general. I don't remember what was on the mix, but I remember the effect it had on me: I wanted to make something similar. I was being shown a musical vision that, for the first time in a long time, I could get behind. Later that year, when Andrei began garnering comparisons to Metro Area with his releases on Was Not Was, he sent both Alex and I a copy of his first 12 inch, "Communicator." Nice guy.
When Andrei first submitted the following mix—the second of his I've had the pleasure of hearing—it came as a revelation of a similar sort. Like the set I had heard back in Ecuador, the music is top notch, but this time it appears to have been culled from a wider range of sources. The set is brazenly eclectic, a collection of cinematic sounds and world-wide vibes, laid-back jazz-funk, prog rock, and deep disco. But to look at it just like that, to take the "shuffle" view, is to miss the point completely. What makes this mix is so good is its unique shape, the way it unfolds—moving across genre and tempo in a way that foregrounds the mood of each song and its composite instruments, and finds natural, practical ways to move between them. There is a subtle grammar to this one, a beautiful and unique logic that makes it one of the most memorable mixes I've listened to in a long while.