Every DJ secretly dreams of heading an empire as prolific as Anjunabeats, whether they will admit to it or not. The label has found itself in the unique position of having a fan-cult.
Die-hard fans (which are all of them) are perpetually torn between blindly loving everything Anjuna puts out and being so fiercely loyal to the label’s original sound that they are offended by any deviance from it. So where does that leave Anjunabeats Vol. 14? In a way most likely representative of the fanbase as a whole, I am split. There are definite standouts; Grum’s ‘Stay’ and Tinlicker’s remix of Above & Beyond’s ‘Always’ are show-stoppers.
Other tracks, however, stand out in a less flattering way. Jason Ross’ ‘IOU,’ for example, sits in stark contrast to the album’s deep, melodic feel, as does Alpha 9 and Kameron Alexander’s vocal-heavy ‘Before the Dawn’. There are two styles fighting for attention on Anjunabeats 14: mainstream EDM and intricate, forward thinking progressive trance. This is no surprise, though. The label has been flirting with the mainstream for years, and this album is the culmination of their efforts to become big names not just to their fan-cult, but to the world.
The mixing of the album is understandably bad; how can you make two different worlds of music come together seamlessly on one album? This question represents the crossroads Anjunabeats find themselves facing. Drama among the fan-cult is becoming more commonplace as they bicker among themselves over the inclusion of Audien on the same lineup as Grum, for example. There is a clear divide and it is apparent on this compilation. While there are absolutely some fantastic tracks on the album and the overall sound maintains the sounds fans know and love, Anjunabeats 14 falls short of what listeners know the label is capable of. While we wait to see how Anjunabeats will evolve, like many things in this quickly-changing world, we have to decide if we want to come along for the ride, or bask in the glory of the past.