- The last time I saw Jackmaster DJ he was in full-on party mode. Headlining the main stage at this year's Love International in Croatia on July 4, he played hits like Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know," DJ Rolando's "Knights Of The Jaguar" and Alan Braxe & Fred Falke's "Running (Intro)." It was my final night at the festival, so my weary legs and battered spirit were in need of some easy fun, but I was expecting something else. In recent years, Jackmaster (AKA Jack Revill) has purposefully moved away from this style and towards something more refined. The previous two times I'd seen him, both at DC-10 in Ibiza, he'd played loopy material more patiently, not leaning so heavily on the classics. "I have definitely been conscious in not DJing that way because I feel like it's been done," Revill told Hyponik recently. "I grew out of it a bit, and it got easy to do."
This shift in direction is reflected in Revill's latest mix, an entry into the DJ-Kicks series. Mixes have been important to his success: he doesn't release records, so the online Tweak-A-Holic and Mastermix series, as well as his FabricLive.57, have been a way to engage his fanbase away from the dance floor. But so far they've upheld the image of Revill as a party-starter, someone who combines technical proficiency and fun, diverse selections to devastating effect. (Their classics-heavy tracklists made them a great choice for pre-club sessions and house parties.) DJ-Kicks, however, presents Revill in 2016, a globetrotting DJ who feels at home at Panorama Bar or DC-10.
This is evident from the tracklist. Where Revill's FabricLive CD crammed 29 tracks into 72 minutes, DJ-Kicks features 24 in 79. There are a handful of well-known cuts, but they're by headsy acts like Ricardo Villalobos, Basic Channel and Mike Dunn. Transitions are generally longer and more subtle, and the overall mood is deeper, at least by Revill's rampant standards. Also, roughly half the mix is made up of music from 2014 or later, which feels like a statement given that Revill has made a career out of mining the past.
New tracks by Denis Sulta, Alcatraz Harry and Tessela provide some of the mix's most exciting moments (Tessela's "Up" into Villalobos's "Logohitz" is a particularly inspired blend), but Revill's newer selections largely don't match up to his older ones. Take the first six cuts. Things get off to a strong start, with LNRDCROY's trippy "Freedom For Antboy II" seamlessly unfurling into one of 2016's most sought-after new tunes, Sulta's "My Soul Needs Justice." But the energy subsides across solid yet unexceptional tracks from the likes of Phil Moffa, Eliphino and Massimiliano Pagliara. It's not until Mike Dunn's 1990 Chicago house bomb "A Groove" that the mix finds its feet again, recapturing that mean, funky vibe that is Revill's calling card.
Midway through track 14, Sulta's "Dubelle Oh XX (Jack's VIP)," its catchy synth line suddenly subsides, making way for a one bar interlude of rave stabs and the sound of a storm cloud imploding over a breakbeat. Moments later, that synth returns and you're left wondering if you imagined the whole thing. It's the kind of what-the-fuck moment that defines great mixes, and here it marks the start of a barnstorming finale. Save for Fango's "Vena Cava," the rest of the mix is spotless, proof of why, on his day, Revill is such a powerful DJ. Thumping tracks by the likes of Mr. G, Basic Channel, Tessela, Villalobos and Robert Hood all feature, programmed so well and blended together with such precision that each new record feels like a logical development. Revill finishes with what are arguably the mix's two best cuts: Overmow's "Convultions" (a slice of raw, ravey techno that came out of Detroit in '92) and Pom Pom's "Untitled 18 B2," which wraps things up in a tender flare of bright, dancing synths. DJ-Kicks isn't the best mix Jackmaster's ever done, largely because his taste in new house and techno is less convincing than what's in his record collection at home. There are, however, flashes of brilliance that confirm his status as one of the most skilful and thrilling DJs working today.
01. LNRDCROY - Freedom For Antboy II
02. Denis Sulta - My Soul Needs Justice
03. Phil Moffa - Centre Of The World
04. X_1 - Happy Hippie Hifi
05. Eliphino - Isabella Road
06. Massimiliano Pagliara - I Am Running All My Drum Machines At Once And Dancing
07. Mike Dunn - The Groove
08. Playground Productionz - Orgy XXX
09. Eli Escobar - Tension (Vinyl Mix)
10. Alcatraz Harry - Ode To Frankfurt
11. Lory D - Deep Acoustic
12. Tomahawk - Forever Free
13. Anno Stamm - A Night Out With Therese
14. Denis Sulta - Dubelle Oh XX (Jack's VIP)
15. Konakov - Clnki Part 2
16. Mr. G - Transient
17. Basic Channel - Q1.1
18. Fango - Vena Cava
19. Tessela - Up (Demo Version)
20. Ricardo Villalobos - Logohitz
21. Dean & Deluca - Chapter One
22. Robert Hood - The Pace
23. Overmow - Convultions
24. Pom Pom - Untitled