- There's no one out there like DJ Koze. Over the years, Stefan Kozalla has forged a sound that's psychedelic, funny and highly functional, moving effortlessly between hip-hop, house and pop. Whether it's an original track or one of his revered remixes, you can usually detect his fingerprints instantly. That's especially true on this landmark 50th instalment of DJ-Kicks, which taps into the !K7 series' original mission to provide something for home-listening instead of a club set. Indeed, this one is more like a playlist than a DJ mix. Still, Kozalla edits many of the songs—usually quite subtly—and teases out surprising similarities from vastly different material, enriching it all with a sense of whimsy that could only come from him.
The collection begins with a Koze original: "I Haven't Been Everywhere But It's On My List." It's just as quirky as you'd expect, easing us into his world with a zany spoken-word passage. From there it's easy to forget that we're actually listening to a various artists compilation. Kozalla has a way of picking tracks that slot right into his peculiar musical world. The Boards Of Canada remix of cLOUDDEAD's stoner rap lullaby "Dead Dogs Two," is a dead ringer for Kozalla's woozy style, while Madlib's instrumental "Shame" sounds eerily like one of his early tracks. He follows those with his edit of Mndsgn's "Camelblues," a tune that comes from a whole different lineage of hip-hop—the remnants of LA's beat scene—but fits in next to its predecessors anyway, another sign of Kozalla's knack for connecting the dots. He occasionally shades in extra pastel colours or smudges some of the edges to make the tracks fit more snugly, but it's so careful that it can be hard to tell where the original track ends and his edits begin.
DJ-Kicks glides to a close with a selection of perfectly-mixed house tracks, the opposite of the chunky hip-hop it began with. But it's what's in between that makes the most impact, once the mix melts into its impressionistic midsection with starker selections from Broadcast and William Shatner—yes, William Shatner. The actor's notorious spoken-word work (and the lush strings that Ben Folds backs him up with) actually isn't all that different than Kozalla's own madcap style. In fact, his heartfelt "It Hasn't Happened Yet" might just be the definitive moment on DJ-Kicks. It's absurd and surprisingly poignant, pulling out a thread of emotion you probably wouldn't get if you listened to that song on its own.
Kozalla is an artist whose mixes are just as important and personal as his studio albums (see also All People Is My Friends, or his ridiculous FACT podcast). And like most of his albums, DJ-Kicks is unusual, with few conventional transitions or the kind of smooth flow we would expect from a DJ mix. It's a reminder that being a DJ is about more than just working the dance floor; it's about introducing audiences to music new and old and connecting it in ways that no one else can. Since the beginning, DJ-Kicks has been about finding unique takes on this craft. Kozalla's 50th instalment more than lives up to this tradition.
01. DJ Koze - I Haven't Been Everywhere But It's On My List (DJ-Kicks Exclusive)
02. Dimlite - Can't Get Used To Those? (Kosi Edit) / Efdemin - Ohara
03. cLOUDDEAD - Dead Dogs Two (Boards Of Canada Remix)
04. Strong Arm Steady - Best Of Times (Instrumental)
05. Homeboy Sandman - Holiday (Kosi & Fink's Edit)
06. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Shame (Instrumental)
07. Mndsgn - Camelblues (Kosi Edit)
08. Broadcast - Tears In The Typing Pool
09. Daniel Lanois - Carla
10. Hi-Tek / The 2 Bears - Come Get It (Tekstrumental) / Modern Family (Kosi Kos Mélange)
11. William Shatner - It Hasn't Happened Yet
12. Marker Starling - In Stride
13. Session Victim - Hyuwee (DJ Koze Remix)
14. Frank & Tony - Bring The Sun feat. Gry (Kosi Edit)
15. Marcel Fengler - Jaz (Kosi Edit)
16. Portable feat. Lcio - Surrender (Kosi Edit)
17. The Gentle People - Superstar