Mark Farina

Air Farina (OM Records)

Occasionally, connoisseurs of hallucinogens become convinced that they are somehow capable of actual flight. So it's hardly surprising that Mark Farina, a man famous for his mushroom-influenced mixes, considers himself captain of his very own airline. "The communications on this record were recorded in over fifteen hours of flight time," explains the instructor on the spoken intro to Farina's latest effort, Air Farina. The DJ's first-ever full-length of original material plays exactly like a virtual-reality simulation of his standard daily routine. Although psychedelic psilocybin may have inspired earlier titles, perma-jet lag made this one a no-brainer.

Captain Obvious says Air Farina is a concept record. At first, an airline might seem like a strong concept for a DJ's first artist album. After all, airplanes travel at hundreds of miles per hour and take their passengers on a definite journey to another place. The problem in this case is that even though the disc claims to be (and is) continuously mixed, the listener is not at all on a non-stop flight. Although the LCD display on a stereo will count nineteen total tracks, five are merely annoying "layovers." While pilots-in-training might be mostly unfazed by the constant interruption of air-traffic-controller chatter, the majority of dance-music fans won't be.

Between the initial "Takeoff" and various layovers, Farina has the opportunity to fly both facets of his split musical personalities. Mushroom Jazz-style downtempo has first dibs on the control panel with "Love Makes," but deep house, à la San Francisco Sessions, dominates the bulk of the record's middle leg, relying heavily on two-chord keyboard progressions and a plethora of random vocal samples (Lord of the Ringsgroupies should keep their ears pricked for the one that sounds like Gollum emceeing an aerobics class). Studio co-pilots include Undercover Agency's Lance DeSardi, Sean Hayes and fellow OM labelmates Kaskade and People Under the Stairs. Hayes's delicate tenor attains Air Farina's ideal cruising altitude with a banjo-and-wah-guitar-complemented number called "Dream Machine," but "Layover 3" follows immediately afterward, spoiling any last chance for musical momentum.

 
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