- You can expect DJs to bring their A-game when they get the call to mix DJ-Kicks. !K7's long-running mix series is widely beloved. In 2013, Resident Advisor named John Talabot's beautifully Balearic edition the best mix of the year. Then, of course, there are those amazing contributions from James Holden, Henrik Schwarz, Scuba. Erlend Øye…the list of stunners goes on and on. But Will Saul is up to the challenge, and his chapter of the ongoing DJ-Kicks story easily meets the standards set by his predecessors.
Saul has said the mix is a representation of his club sets, in that it's largely made up of tracks from his labels (Aus Music and Simple), his own productions and exclusives from his friends. (And when your contacts list boasts the likes of Axel Boman, Youandewan, Bicep and Sei A, why the hell not?) Throughout, an overarching feel of grandeur merges with one of intimacy—not an easy trick, but one that Saul's been perfecting throughout his career. Kicking off with the swooning, beat-free "Bendy"—made by the team of Kieren "Komen" Lomax and Saul himself—the mix begins with an aura of hazy serenity, typified by "The Visionary State," produced by Komen (again) and Appleblim. When that song drifts into the majestic deepness of Joe Gray's "Tozai," which in turn glides into the nebulous exoticism of Cottam's "Healing Process," it's sublime.
After this swirling introductory passage, the mix enters a new phase, typified by Jabru's "Church"—featuring alt-soul singer Joel Culpepper, this one is graceful, elegantly rendered and fully resonant. The track weds its shivering sigh of a vocal—close-miked and sung in a whispering falsetto—to a yearning melody. Despite its relative sparseness, it's dripping with emotion. That feeling of restrained grace is one of Saul's specialties, and the tracks that follow—Leon Vynehall's melancholy "Time," for instance, or Walton's bleepy, Detroit-tinged "Birds"—carry that vibe forward.
Things toughen up a bit towards the mix's finish. Bicep's "Nova" weds airy synths to a tough breakbeat, a spare, ecstatic vocal sample serving as the icing on the cake. Legowelt's "Ethereal Techno Music Will Never Die" sounds pretty much as the name implies. Gerry Read's "Baseball" is a nicely skeletal jacker. Finally, the set ends with the truly gorgeous "Oxygene" by Second Storey, all skittering rhythms and cathedral chords.
There's a kind of serene stillness to Saul's DJ-Kicks; it's patiently constructed, progressing at an amble rather than a gallop. But pay attention, and you'll find a dynamic set that's expertly constructed and brimming with soul-stirring music. It's a dreamland testament to Saul's selection skills, one that deserves a close, uninterrupted listen.
01. Will Saul & Komon - Bendy
02. Animal Hands - Beacon Island
03. Komon & Appleblim - The Visionary State
04. Joe Gray - Tozai
05. Cottam - Healing Process
06. Youandewan - Ego
07. Jabru - Church feat. Joel Culpepper
08. Lrusse - Presence
09. Walton - Birds
10. Leon Vynehall - Time
11. Will Saul & Komon - Two For One (DJ-Kicks)
12. Sei A - Reserve
13. Axel Boman - Dubbel (dub) / CLOSE feat. Tikiman - Born In A Rolling Barrel
14. Sei A - JTR
15. October - KR-100 Dub
16. David Clement - Follow Me Home (Lee Jones Remix)
17. Marquis Hawkes - Life Struggle
18. Bicep - Nova
19. Will Saul - Pedal Power
20. Legowelt - Etherial Techno Music Will Never Die
21. George FitzGerald - Wanting Needing
22. Gerry Read - Baseball
23. Escape - Flinch
24. Second Storey - Oxygene