- It's easy to take an artist like Michael Mayer for granted. Helping to bring the Kompakt label into existence in the late '90s, DJing for two decades, amassing a solid discography as a solo artist, remixer and collaborator—he's been doing his part and then some for ages. But Mayer's greatest glories have taken shape on his mix CDs. It's not for nothing that the original edition of the Mayer-compiled Immer found itself atop Resident Advisor's list of the top 50 mixes of the '00s, for instance. While his latest mix, for !K7's long-running DJ-Kicks series, doesn't hit those same heights, it quietly reasserts Mayer's standing as a vital force in clubland.
Mayer's never been one for quick mixes. "I think it's a DJ's duty to respect the artist," he's said, "and I prefer to serve the tracks." His DJ-Kicks is no exception. Many of the tracks are given five or more minutes to breathe. In the mix's opening third, Mayer's subdued choices impart the feel of a welcoming hug. The circular melody and muted trumpet of Peter Zummo's "The Tape Is Chill" give way to Mayer's placid, hand-percussion–led "The Horn Conspiracy." dOP & Masomenos's spectral version of "Papas Groove," by Bvoice, Anrilov, Danilov, leads nicely into I:Cube's pulsing remix of SAVE!'s "The Darkness," which itself glides easily into the spacious vistas of Justus Köhncke's "Feuerland."
In the section that follows, Mayer briefly loses his way. He's never shied away from a big pop melody, but the earworm hook from his own remix of CSS's "Honey" leaves a little bit too much of a sticky-sweet aftertaste. The same could be said for another Mayer remix, Kasper Bjørke's "Apart." After 20 or so repetitions, the refrain—"Nothing's going to trouble my heart / now that we have grown apart"—is more annoying than addictive. The tune that bridges those two tracks, Alter Ego's "Gary"—Dare-era Human League filtered with '00s electro-disco maximalism—is fun, but its stomp-beat goofiness feels out of place.
Midway through, though, Mayer gets the mix back on track. Its second half takes its cues from the deeper, dreamier end of the trance spectrum. (He's always professed a soft spot for trance—rare is the Mayer DJ set that doesn't at least edge close to the sound, and he's stated in interviews that he believes Kompakt has helped to rehabilitate the term.) The sequence kicks off with "The Drift," a Prins Thomas remix of Lionheart Brothers that overflows with swirling synths and a brooding aura. That's followed by the percolating optimism of Röyksopp's remix of Mekon's "Please Stay."
A pair of luminescent Throbbing Gristle-related tracks—Ratcliff's flowing take on the group's "Hot On The Heels Of Love" and Chris & Cosey's spacious remix of Death In Vegas's "Consequences Of Love"—feel like shivers committed to sound, while the pastoral ambience of Idioma's "Landscapes" is pure lullaby joy. The set finishes with Moderat's gracefully unfolding version of Jon Hopkins' "Abandon Window," a tune that somehow signifies both resignation and transcendence in equal measure. It's a gossamer finale to an emotional run of tracks, and more than enough to make up for any wrong turns that Mayer might have made along the way.
01. Peter Zummo - The Tape Is Chill
02. Michael Mayer - The Horn Conspiracy (DJ-Kicks)
03. Bvoice, Anrilov, Danilov - Papas Groove (dOP & Masomenos Remix)
04. SAVE! - The Darkness (I:Cube Remix)
05. Justus Köhncke - Feuerland
06. CSS - Honey (Michael Mayer Remix)
07. Alter Ego - Gary
08. Kasper Bjørke - Apart feat. Sísý Ey (Michael Mayer Remix)
09. Lionheart Brothers - The Drift (Prins Thomas Diskomiks)
10. Mekon - Please Stay feat. Marc Almond (Röyksopp Remix)
11. Dreems - Mirages (Michael Mayer Remix)
12. Boreal - Canopy Target
13. Throbbing Gristle - Hot On The Heels Of Love (Ratcliffe Remix)
14. Death In Vegas - Consequences Of Love (Chris & Cosey Remix)
15. Idioma - Landscapes
16. Jon Hopkins - Abandon Window (Moderat Remix)