It’s a testament to the impact that Renaissance: The Mix Collection has had on dance music that the triple-CD compilation by Sasha and John Digweed is still talked about in revered tones, more than a quarter century on from its release on 14 October 1994.
The first publicly-released mix to be helmed by the duo, who at the time were two years into their residency at Geoff Oakes’ fabled Renaissance club, The Mix Collection would set the template for all mix CDs to follow, and encompasses the sonic peaks and troughs of a typical night out – from the progressive-leaning first CD, through to the house anthems of the second and peak-time euphoria of the third.
The album was released by Renaissance alongside 6X6 Records, a sub-label of Neil Rushton’s seminal Network Records, who admitted to Generator on its release that no expense was spared in terms of packaging up what would be a seminal CD release.
“We couldn’t find anyone in the UK who could supply us with the materials,” he said. “In the end we had to order stock from a company in Japan. It was worth it, however, as the final result is stunning.”
The album also marked a turning point in the musical direction that both artists sought to take. Three years earlier, in 1991, Sasha gave a now-infamous interview to Mixmag (title: Sasha – The First DJ Pin-up), in which he discussed how he felt his sound was evolving from those early days as resident at Shelley’s.
“It’s the easiest way of getting a crowd to move,” he said, “putting on a piano house track and getting them to put their hands in the air. That used to be my trademark but everybody is doing it and the tracks that are created aren’t very good anyway. It’s too easy to stick to one sort of music, it works much better to play heavy techno for fifteen minutes and then follow it up with piano tunes. The effect is fifty times better.”
By the time Renaissance: The Mix Collection came around, both he and Digweed were bringing a myriad of musical styles into their sets, creating a sonic experience that went far beyond a simple ‘hands in the air’ moment.
As The Quietus put it in a 2015 article about the most seminal DJ mixes of all time, Renaissance: The Mix Collection marked the moment when the “second wave of dance music crossed over to a wider audience”, and “blended effortlessly a heady and hedonistic miasma of progressive house and early trance that included Leftfield, Underworld, and Age of Love to freeze in time forever the euphoric nights that would become days that would become euphoric nights again”.
Or, as DJ Mag noted in 2017, “its timeless track selection is matched only by its effortlessly smooth transitions. What’s more, Sasha claims neither he nor Digweed ever relied on computers to assist the mixing process.
“Knowing their technical proficiency like we do, we don’t doubt that one bit.”
For us, though the proof of the pudding is in the eating (or in this case, listening). So put on those headphones, turn up the volume, and prepare for 225 minutes of aural exhilaration.
DID YOU KNOW: An interesting side fact for lovers of Renaissance art; the figure on the album cover is the prophet Zechariah, taken from Michaelangelo’s iconic fresco on the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, painted between 1508 and 1512. Whether the Pope is also a fan of Sasha and Digweed’s masterwork, however, remains unconfirmed.
Here’s the iconic tracklisting in all its glory:
Leftfield – Song of Life (Lemon Interrupt mix)
Leftfield – Song of Life (Dub for Life mix)
Leftfield – Song of Life (Steppin’ Razor mix)
Bedrock featuring KYO – For What You Dream Of (Full On Renaissance mix)
Rhythm Invention – Chronoclasm
Disco Evangelists – De Niro (Spaceflight remix)
Memphisto – State of Mind (Quiet mix)
Moonchild – V.O.A.T (original mix)
Sunscreem – Perfect Motion (Heller & Farley’s Boy’s Own mix)
River Ocean – Love & Happiness (X-Press 2’s Junior Boy’s Own Super dub)
That Kid Chris – Keep on Pressin’ On (Didn’t I Show You Luv mix)
Remake – Bladerunner/Inner City – ‘Til We Meet Again (Brothers in Rhythm Perkappella)
Bump – House Stompin’ (Big Bump mix)
F Machine – Child Bride (Feedback Max mix)
M People – Renaissance (John Digweed’s Full on mix)
Fluke – Slid (PDF mix)
Funk Machine – Let’s Get This Party Started (Party mix)
Fluke – Slid (Justin Robertson’s Scat & Frenzy)
Corrado – Trust (Pink mix)
MBG – Trance 1 (Oriental Psycho Estmix)
Hysterix – Talk to Me (Sasha’s Full Master mix)
Annadin – Angel
Virtualmismo – Mismoplastico (Dirtysyncomix)
Virtualmismo – Mismoplastico (original remix)
Fishbone Beat – Always (Psychedelic Martini remix)
Grace – Not Over Yet (Perfecto mix)
Secret Life – She Holds the Key (H.A.L.F. I’m a Believer mix)
Funtopia featuring Jimi Polo – Do You Wanna Know (Gut Drum mix)
V.F.R. – Tranceillusion (Original mix)
Kym Mazelle – Was That All It Was (David Morales’ Def mix)
M People – How Can I Love You More (QAT mix)
Moby – Go (Nighttime mix)
Jaco – Show Some Love (original dub)
Spooky – Little Bullet (High Velocity mix)
Havana – Sublime Theme (dub)
Shawn Christopher – Another Sleepless Night (Bassman mix)
Unity 3 – Age of Love (Trance Dub & Fantasy mix)
EMF – They’re Here (D:Ream Dream)
Solar Plexus – Solar Plexus
Havana – Ethnic Prayer (Euro mix)
2 Bad Mice – Bombscare
Age of Love – The Age of Love (Jam & Spoon’s Watch Out for Stella mix)
My Friend Sam featuring Viola Wills – It’s My Pleasure (Rick van Breugel’s club mix)
Lemon Interrupt – Dirty