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Mark Farina – Taking Off Into The Air

I went to Brazil for vacation 3 years ago, and before I went, I picked up two CDs – Eric B and Rakim’s platinum remix edition of Paid In Full, and Mark Farina’s Mushroom Jazz Volume 1. Now being a hip-hop fan, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at my enthusiastic reaction to Mark’s sound, and the fact that his CD didn’t leave my discman the entire week.

That was my first introduction to Mark Farina. As soon as I knew who he was I started noticing his name around Boulder, on posters for a residency night he was doing in town at Soma nightclub (now closed). So I had to check it out. The place was packed on both floors and remained that way for the entire evening, and on a Thursday night no less. It was suprised once again, since I had no idea that House music was a large part of his style, and that Mushroom Jazz was something he did on the side as sort of a pet project. When I asked around, people thought I was crazy for not knowing. Apparently, Mark has been around for some time, having built a rising reputation after years of working the international scene, all by the time I was merely at drinking age. “Life on Om is good, and takes me everywhere,” Mark says of the San Francisco label. “They treat me well, really get my music out to a lot of people all over the world, and have been really supportive. They represent a lot of different kinds of music, too, which broadens the audience as well.”

After 3 volumes of the Mushroom Jazz series and several mix CDs (all released internationally), Mr. Farina has dropped a full length artist album on Om Records entitled Air Farina, and if you saw his schedule, you’d understand where the title’s inspiration came from. The man plays to over 300,000 clubbers a year, turning what he called “a hobby into a job.” When asked about the new CD, he said that, “the next artist album will be a lot like the stuff from the Mushroom Jazz series, but for this album, I wanted to do something that was more my original style, to get back to Chicago house type stuff.”

If the new album sounds like one of his mixes, it’s because he’s taken his productions straight from his live floor formula. The first track starts low key, complete with airport sounds that roll down the runway into beats that portray his down and mid-tempo material from the Mushroom Jazz series. Then Mark’s trademark house style emerges, with warm but funky basslines and smooth rhythms, topped off with manicured melodies and instrumental atmosphers – a treat for first time listeners and house veterans alike.

The mood is light yet bumping, moving you through the entire album, with extras from Kaskade, Sean Hayes, Lance Desardi, and hip-hop crew People Under The Stairs, with interesting “layovers” interspersed throughout the entirety of the record. All in all a great artist album, with tastes of many different musical genres adding flavor to the mix, as is Mark Farina’s way. There’s no denying a solid root in house music, though – the Chicago sound is definitely there, but enhanced and expanded to a format that can be enjoyed by all dance music fans.

“I got a lot of influence from Chicago House,” he says. “I met Derrick Carter there; I learned to spin there, how to buy records there. Then I moved to San Francisco. Moving there changed my style, just with the diversity of the city, of musical genres, record stores to shop. I find out about a lot of music now on the internet, though.” Not a vinyl purist, he says that some of the releases he gets are somewhat obscure, music, “that may not be getting released for a while…maybe even a year off, so I have to take what I can get, even if it’s CDs. It’s ok, though. I don’t mind mixing it up a bit.”

We don’t mind, either, and you can trust that he will break out with some of that music as well as tracks from Air Farina on October 30th for his return to Boulder at the Boulder Theater. Show up early, it’s guaranteed to be packed. Mark will be headlining the evening with support from Astralwerks newcomers Audio Bullys and Colorado favorites Heavyweight Dub Champion.

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