Many shudder when electronic music gets compiled. My first experience with a dance compilation was Ultra Records’ still-growing Ministry of Sound series, which somehow has an audience uninterested enough to buy the new installments every year. Mostly house, the 2003 release in the series was one disc DJ Skribble, one disc David Waxman. Now the latter re-enters my life with Ultra Electro, which follows Ultra Dance, Ultra Trance, and Ultra Pants. (Okay, that last one is a lie.)
New York-born Waxman seems to be either scoffed at or admired, but this new collection undoubtedly places him in a realm of awareness. Whereas the tracks selected for previous Ultra releases were plucked from the vast array of dance club scenes, Ultra Electro borrows from indie rock and pop that had enough electronic undertones to work with: Gorillaz, New Order, Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode, Ladytron. These names are all known, to some degree, in the electronic scene, but they’ve also solidified stakes outside of the digital realm. Smart on Waxman’s part is the invitation to move on to the second disc, where he introduces the likes of Armand van Helden, Digitalism, and various Ibiza-esque deejays to ears that may not have heard them otherwise.
Truth be told, Planet Funk’s remix of New Order’s “Waiting for the Siren’s Call” is a phenomenal take on the original, and Sebastian Ingrosso’s mash ‘n’ smash of Moby’s “Dream About Me” contorts the Hotel version to such an unrecognizable degree that it’s purely delightful. Unless you’re willing, the second disc can be difficult to appreciate or enjoy, but the more popular blend of the first is a proper, danceable homage to the ever-evolving relationships that continue to form between genres as we move into a more musically digital age.