- Most of us don't know what our favourite DJs listen to in their spare time. We get hints here and there (like when Ricardo Villalobos and Objekt told us that they don't listen to very much dance music at home), but what top-tier selectors listen to outside the club isn't usually clear. DJ-Kicks has been giving us insight into that world since the '90s. Known for coaxing house and techno DJs away from the club-centric sounds that other well-known series—fabric, Balance, Global Underground—specialise in, DJ-Kicks has delivered much-loved installments by artists like DJ Koze, James Holden and John Talabot, who all offered up selections far from what you'd hear them deliver to a busy dance floor. Marcel Dettmann's DJ-Kicks isn't as adventurous as it could have been (RA's Will Lynch found out his tastes run from Nitzer Ebb and Ben Frost to Robert Hood and Answer Code Request), but we still get a look at his softer side.
The main surprise here is the way Dettmann builds his set. Presumably mixed live, most transitions on DJ-Kicks are relatively short, and the mood changes often—the opposite of what Dettmann usually does in the club. We get plenty of quick fades, along with a handful of long blends, stringing together house, electro and various shades of techno, most of which share a hazy, raw aesthetic. In describing his mix, Dettmann said he selected many tracks that he "certainly wouldn't have played in a club set." But one person's banger is another's bedtime jam, and many of these tunes (Mystic Bill's "U Wont C Me," Sterac's "Intersphere") would be heavy-duty cuts for most DJs.
There's little fault to find here. Transitions are varied and sharp, and despite the variations in sound, the set flows as well as any. When compared with recent standout editions of DJ-Kicks, however, the mix's only downside is that it's grounded in relatively club-ready fare. We get a glimpse of the far-flung corners of Dettmann's record collection with the proto-electro of Clarence G's "Cause I Said It Right," the oddball industrial of Das Kombinat's "Waschmaschine" and the weirdo EBM of the "Nightmare Mix" of The Residents' "Kaw-Liga," but we don't spend much time there.
At the top level of DJing, it's arguably not what you play but how you play it. With Dettmann at the helm, there's no way this DJ-Kicks was going to be poorly executed, but there's a feeling it could've done more. Dettmann has one of the deepest record collections in techno, but he still found a way to include five tracks he either produced or co-produced in this mix. This DJ-Kicks doesn't tell us much about Dettmann that we didn't already know. Still, the Dettmann we already know is enough to make this mix a 2016 highlight.
01. Cybersonik - Technarchy (Marcel Dettmann Third Mix)
02. Orlando Voorn - At Last
03. Levon Vincent / Marcel Dettmann - Can You See
04. Infiniti - Skyway (Marcel Dettmann Remix)
05. Mystic Bill - U Won't C Me
06. Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia - War Chant (Marcel Dettmann Edit)
07. Das Kombinat - Waschmaschine
08. Clarence G - Cause I Said It Right
09. Sandbenders - Defekt
10. Vex - Vex-1
11. Dan Curtin - Paradise Lost
12. N.A.D - Everything Seems Different
13. Violence FM - Perspectives
14. Sterac - Intersphere
15. Nukubus - People Move On (Marcel Dettmann Edit)
16. Push/Pull feat. Lady E and Niqué D - Africa
17. The Residents - Kaw-Liga (Nightmare Mix)
18. Wincent Kunth / Marcel Dettmann - Possible Step
19. Marcel Dettmann - Let's Do It (Rolando Remix)