here are two versions of every album as dictated by the listener: the skip-around and the linear listen. A mix only deserves the latter, though it’s likely to be abused a couple of times because tracks are tracks and familiar track listings are alluring. No different here—with Booka Shade’s DJ Kicks, you may initially be inclined to settle on your favorite artists: Hot Chip, Aphex Twin, and Booka Shade. It’s only upon forcing yourself to listen to a one-track stream that you realize not only the artistry of the German duo’s ordering, but as with any good mix that you are discovering new gems: Lopazz, Nôze, and some subtle but fairly uneventful makeovers of classics that are there simply to remind you of how great they are/were/will continue to be.
Not surprisingly, given the mix-makers, this is an exceedingly mellow mix, easily at home in an incense-filled clothing store in Camden as a bar in Germany or a lounge in New York. While this makes for a little monotony in the first half, it’s spruced up by old newsflashes such as John Carpenter’s “The Bank Robbery,” a snippet snagged from the soundtrack to Escape from New York. Generally the duo is flitting between a groin-pumping, infectious ‘80s sentiment, and the sweat is only broken with quick, low-key and occasionally dull interludes, where a boring but skittish BS beat fawns around the screens and speakers of yesteryear.
Karel Fialka’s relatively nostalgic faux organ pulsations, proclaiming “I saw a rainbow today” are utterly reminiscent of a Halloween party in a school gym. And then Lopazz has to go ruin the seasonality with the wonderfully timeless (read: now) “2 Fast 4 U,” which contains more than an ounce of the dirty Miami spice of Studio—complete with those ominous Duran-y vocal choruses and glittering moments of synth—oh, and the funkified bassline. As with all the numbers on this mix, good and bad, everything is snapped off—or rather, dwindles into that awkward few moments in the club when you’re bouncing around waiting for some kind of addictive melody to return—at around three minutes. Less than half the time, this is acceptable. And I’m not in a nightclub so really, it’s fine.
Melding another segment from Escape from New York with the brand newsness of Mlle Caro and Franck Garcia’s “Far Away” is a brilliant, perfect centerfold for this surprisingly earthen and peaceful album. Anticipation of one of your favorites, Aphex Twin’s “Alberto Balsam” is now all the sweeter, and it’s laced with the final moments of “Far Away”’s affectionate pokes from the bass. I imagine the dudes walking away from the laptop for a few minutes to let this gorgeous riff cast its spell; there are, after all, about thirty more minutes for the duo to leave more of its own marks (and those of Heaven 17, Brigitte Bardot, Matthew Dear, et al.). Things get a bit too attention deficient after “Geisha Boys and Temple Girls,” as you might expect, and then far too predictable and campy for Bardot’s “Contact.” But Quarion, who for some reason was given two spots, the terrible “Play Your Part” and the nice “Karazu,” returns things to their natural, solid state, somewhere c. 1990.
As if to drive home the point that this mix is intended to showcase underrated slices of vaguely related genres, the Streets’ “Too Late” is given an uninterrupted, un-made-over four minutes. I could do without the Matthew Dear, personally, because Amir Ad Fontes and Carl Craig could beautifully close out the mix, anticipating as they do a ghostly choral tribute by Hot Chip (Dear’s “Don and Cherry”) and the flawless somnambulance of Richard Hawley’s cloud-perched piano ditty. There many be some dross on this album, but most sensible listeners will treat them as merely bonus tracks they didn’t happen to enjoy. So skip around, if you like. It’s a free industry.