Record Review - 2 July 21 2005

Under both his own name and as part of production group Fade, Chris Fortier has acted as a figurehead for the American arm of progressive house, featuring more synth- than soul-derived theatrics at its core. Now Fortier follows DJs including Phil K, James Holden and Anthony Pappa to deliver a mix in the Australian Balance series, and in the process adopts a more brooding, low-slung sound.

Balance 007 is no flatliner, but like an anesthetized patient's electrocardiogram, the pulse is perhaps too pain-free and steady. Opting for metronomic pecks over progressive house's long tradition of peaks and troughs, CDs one and two of Balance 007 have a feel far more in vogue with Europe's tendencies toward tension-fraught tech-house. Whereas disc one is more sparse, disc two features increased melodic hooks. But while none of Balance 007 is imbued with feelings of negativity, there is also no nod to euphoria. These steely CDs feel as if they exist under cloud cover, grinding unswervingly forward with mechanized obstinacy.

It's on disc three that the sound is given the chance to evolve. Minimal house gives way to squelching, arpeggiated electro/breaks, and robots are given something to throw their root down to. Fortier's mix is more bleeped than blissed out, and leaves one wondering where he'll progress next.

Chris Fortier spins at the Mark with Jory Johnson and Sustain, Fri., July 29, 10 p.m. $15. 79 Poplar St. 678-904-0050. www.themarkatlanta.com.??