- In a 2012 interview with RA, Toshiya Kawasaki explained the differences between two of his labels, Mule Music and Endless Flight. According to Kawasaki, Mule is devoted to "organic" tracks with a "more human touch," while Endless Flight deals in sample-based and "disco-y" sounds laced with live instrumentation. The distinctions are clear on the sixth installment of Mule's compilation series, I'm Starting To Feel OK, which has appeared on both labels over the years. However, "organic" and "disco-y" don't seem like the best descriptors in this case: The first CD contains 12 atmospheric house beats, while the second is rooted in post-punk and krautrock.
Perusing CD 1's tracklist, which is filled with house heavyweights like Axel Boman, Lawrence, Smallville boss Julius Steinhoff and New York deep house staples Fred P and DJ Jus-Ed, it would be reasonable to assume two things about the music contained therein: first, that it's house-oriented, and second, that it's mostly solid. And that's basically what you get. The drums are generally light and bouncy, as on Lawrence's "The Cave" and Boman's "Anytime Is Fine," while gentle pads, cute chords or melodic bleeps and bloops provide the chilled-out vibes. Some tracks deviate from this palette, but not drastically—Porn Sword Tobacco and Eduardo De La Calle deliver tunes with softer drums that flow rather than bounce, while Jus-Ed's "Something Sexy" has a forceful kick peppered with springy hi-hats.
The range of influences is broader on CD 2—new wave, post-punk, krautrock, and psych-rock all surface at different moments. Daniel Baldelli and Marco Dionigi dish out reverb-heavy guitar over a sluggish mechanical beat and an arpeggiated bassline on "Cosmic Reishi." Konstantin Sibold opts for ornate Detroit strings on "Daniel," and Tom Trago channels post-punk and new wave with corrugated bass tones on "Fall Down On Me." This batch feels weaker and less consistent than CD 1. The Backwoods' swirling house jam "Hazy Moon" is a highlight, with its skipping kick drum and breezy melody, but at other times the influences seem to compete with one another. Eddie C's "Asulkan Valley," for instance, is equal parts hippie rock and heads-down house, with trippy guitar licks tumbling over a chugging rhythm.
I'm Starting To Feel OK Volume 6 is the longest edition of Mule's longstanding compilation series, yet its sprawling tracklist ends up being its biggest weakness. While the first disc finds strength in stylistic unity, the second suffers from its eclecticism, as its attempt to include as many influences as possible comes off a bit scatterbrained.
01. Matt Karmil – Really
02. Porn Sword Tobacco – Sex Nouveau Dub Mix
03. Lawrence – The Cave
04. Julius Steinhoff – Downtown
05. Axel Boman – Anytime Is Fine
06. Musk – Letusee
07. Kuniyuki – Newwave Project #2
08. Johannes Brecht – London
09. Panoptikum Arkestra – Hyperion
10. Eduardo De La Calle – Together (Fallen Angel Edit)
11. Fred P – Electric Bridge
12. DJ Jus-Ed – Something Sexy
01. JD Twitch – Yesu
02. Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi – Cosmic Reishi
03. KZA – One Hundred Fifth Wave
04. Naum Gabo – Mariama
05. Strategy – Rhythm King
06. Tom Trago – Fall Down On Me
07. The Backwoods – Hazy Moon
08. Eddie C – Asulkan Valley
09. Lauer – Bern
10. Konstantin Sibold – Daniel
11. King So So – Acid In The Sky
12. Gonno – Basic Operation