Mistress of Electronica

aul Oakenfold. John Digweed. Barbara Brown? In the name game of electronica, "Misstress Barbara" may not rest among techno's inner circle, but the Sicilian-born Canadian DJ is spinning clubgoers into a tizzy from LA to Ibiza. On her new studio mix, Relentless Beats Volume 2, Misstress Barbara further perfects her high-impact house style in a frenetic set low on miscues and replete with infectious samples.

Misstress Barbara (who throws in an extra Os' to highlight her "Miss Stress" persona) first staked her claim on circuit turntables in the late O90s. She's distinguished herself by spinning in Prada pantsuits and pounding crowds with tracks racing at 150 beats per minute. A dancefloor dominatrix, Misstress Barbara inflicts her feverish pace with finesse and ferocity, asserting a potent femininity amid man's vinyl fiefdom.

Relentless Beats Volume 2 marks Misstress Barbara's first full-length mix album since 2000. Volume 2 shares its predecessor's irreverent flair--Volume 1 sampled footsteps from a Prada fashion show--but the current set reflects the dynamic state of house and drum On' bass. Misstress Barbara revisits artists like Deetron and Rino Cerrone, but her track selections on Volume 2 feature more vocal samples and interspersed melodies.

Misstress Barbara shines on her own track "Talk to Me," which thrives with a numbing bass line and a jungle choral chant. The keyboard sequence in Brian Zentz's "Watch the Sun" thumps with addictive intensity, and the transitions through Tomaz & Filterheadz's "Los Hijos del Sol" and Deetron's "Vertigo" yield seamless momentum and an almost sexual climax.

But Misstress Barbara makes a stale selection with Sharpside's "Space Cruising," which features one of the album's only non-melodic vocal samples. Amid gasps and orgasms, an anonymous ingZnue begs, "Tell me you love meeeÉ. You feel so good." This obvious clitoral farce pays homage to the dizzying heights of XTC-gorged raver culture--but doesn't the Misstress of hip know the cool kids have moved on to coke?

Relentless Beats Volume 2 plays best in its entirety and proves a decent stand-in for a live performance, but the commanding intensity of Misstress Barbara seems slightly hidden amid the subtext of whirs and rumbles. Yet perhaps that's her intention--aural foreplay that leaves the listener pulsing with desire but suspended in a vexing state of near-climactic release.


Share and discuss “Mistress of Electronica” on social media.