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Essential Listening: Sasha

Essential Listening: Sasha

Jonathan Coll | Features & Interviews

Considering that 90s rave nostalgia has flooded the UK recently, there are a few ways in which in which 2018 is radically different to its predecessors. What is popular now bears little resemblance to the post-industrial, pre-digital records which sound tracked those glorious warehouse parties. BPMs have slowed and people’s tastes had grown more refined. Techno has eaten trance. But maybe now the tide is turning. Tale of Us are remixing Café Del Mar, Denis Sulta is playing trance classics at every opportunity and the genre’s premier DJs are atop festival lineups across the world.

Sasha began his journey the 1980s, while he was predominantly playing acid house. But it was his shift to progressive trance which created his legend. Modern clubbing would look very different were it not for Sasha’s ascent to superstar DJ. Nights such as Gatecrasher and Cream helped to shape the scene as we know it today. Sasha has seen it all over the past 25 years, so narrowing it down to five records from such as expansive back catalogue was bound to be difficult. But here is a reasonable place to start.

There really is only one place to start. Mixmag readers voted Xpander the ninth best dance track of all time. His live performance of the track at the Barbican last year is mesmeric; transcending trance music to become a piece of performance art. It’s a record which has been reimagined and reworked for almost twenty years, yet it’s hard top past the raw euphoria of the original.

Last Night On Earth Mix Series
The more observant among you will have noticed that this isn’t a record at all. But Sasha’s Last Night On Earth mix series is an excellent way of hearing the past, present and future of his own record label. Monthly episodes guide you across his own mixes recorded in clubs, forthcoming records on the label and his own productions. Club performances sit alongside studio mixes, with the latter being slightly more considered and downtempo.

Sasha & Digweed
Another cop out. But the two DJs remain synonymous with one another. Having started out sharing a booth for Renaissance in 1993, the pair would go on to record a series of mixes widely considered to be the genre’s finest. Renaissance- The Mix Collection arrived in 1994, though there’s plenty of material from last year’s Resistance residency in Ibiza to bring you back up to date. Northern Exposure is perhaps the best of the lot. It features rhythmic beats from William Orbit and the other-worldly sounds of Rabbit In The Moon among other gems.

Madonna- Ray of Light (Sasha Remix)
If there was ever any doubt about Sasha’s place in dance music’s highest echelons, remixing for a pop icon confirmed his credentials. Ray of Light had been remixed in the past, but Sasha was the first to turn it into ten minutes of unabashed trance . The pace of the track ducks and dives throughout, and there are enough breaks to offer respite from its punchier moments.

Sasha- Be As One
Quintessential trance. Everything which makes the genre great in microcosm. Maria Nayler provides uplifting yet strangely haunting vocals. It’s a record in which everything is stretched to its limit. The bass takes just a little longer to kick and the synths which decorate the beat are so typical of the era. It’s likely to invoke a sense of wistful nostalgia for anybody there to hear it the first time around, now over twenty years ago. It was ahead of its time in many ways and still sounds just as fresh today.

Sasha headlines The Move's Warehouse Special on Sunday 26th August.

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Essential Listening: Sasha

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