- The UK duo assemble a satisfying house and techno mix for DJ-Kicks.
- Mount Kimbie's attitude to club music can seem distant and guarded. They DJ irregularly. At various points, the duo, AKA Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, have suggested they've drawn as much from hip-hop and pop as they do from dance music. It might also be because the scene had embraced them a bit too hard. The duo's early Hotflush EPs hit on a formula compelling enough to be imitated en masse. That "clippy-cloppy stuff," as Maker once quipped about their distinctive percussion, became the all-too-recognisable feature of UK club music made in the early '10s. They may have felt, in turn, confined by other people's perception of them as a "post-dubstep" act. "It's great to be able to just jam like a band and work through songs," Maker told Resident Advisor in 2012. "I remember there was a point where we actually stopped playing club shows sandwiched between DJs, and started being introduced into the festival stages that were mainly populated by bands from other genres." This desire to be an act unto themselves has driven them ever since. With last year's krautrock-inspired LP Love What Survives, Mount Kimbie seem more than ever like the sort of band Maker had in mind.
DJ-Kicks, Mount Kimbie's first official mix, isn't a change of heart so much as an opportunity that probably came along at the right time. The mix was inspired by a series of DJ gigs they did alongside Actress across March and April. Many of the tracks the duo played during those dates made it onto the mix. They also hosted a handful of NTS shows last year with other artists, including Actress, in London and Los Angeles, where Maker now lives. The appeal of DJing more regularly likely struck them along the way. (The release of the CD coincides with a Mount Kimbie DJ tour.) As the mix shows, they're good at it. Until DJ-Kicks's last quarter, where the mix hits a ramp into techno, its measured pace brings to mind a good warm-up set.
The mix draws fluently from house, techno and the kind of experimental acts—Madalyn Merkey, Beatrice Dillon and Rupert Clervaux, Tirzah and Mica Levi—that might influence their own material. But whatever the style, the music on DJ-Kicks is often excellent. The tracks consistently hit a sweetspot between clever melodies and shaggy textures, which you'll get a sense for in tracks like Oliver Coates's "Timelapse (Walrus)" and N.Y House'n Authority's "APT. 2B." Throughout the mix, Campos and Maker show a great ear for music that's both eccentric and accessible—Via App's "Baby K Interaction," Severed Heads's "Lamborghini (Petrol 1982)" and "Obviously," the satisfying closer by Tirzah and Levi.
The mixing throughout is tidy and efficient, with a couple exceptions. When DJ-Kicks approaches its final stretch, during Marco Bernardi's "The Light Beside The Hall," the echo filter steers the mix clumsily into "Chatter"'s babbling percussion. Shortly after, "Blue Mood," by Stanislav Tolkachev, feels a touch too intense over the woody "Southgate," a new Mount Kimbie track inspired in part by the Ukrainian producer. Though these transitions lack finesse, they don't spoil the flow. While other DJs might not have mixed out of object blue's "Even In You" with the audibly less powerful "Lamborghini (Petrol 1982)," DJ-Kicks is more enjoyable for favouring selection over precision.
DJ-Kicks's concluding section winds through a quirky percussion tool (Rupert Clervaux and Beatrice Dillon's "IX"), a particularly good Aleksi Perälä track and Nina Kraviz's version of "Blue Train Lines." The Russian DJ, one of dance music's most in-demand remixers, strips down the original's beery kosmische to an austere techno track with classic Kraviz hallmarks: sinister, hollow-sounding and oddly psychedelic. DJ-Kicks closes shortly after with Taz & Meeks's "Obviously," a kind of karaoke grime, that sums up its overall appeal. However much ground Maker and Campos cover over 50 minutes, their coyly tender musical personality often shines through, never moreso than on "Obviously," an inventive, hard-to-place track by a British duo doing their own thing.
01. Madalyn Merkey - Meridian
02. Via App - Baby K Interaction
03. Severed Heads - Always Randy
04. De Leon - B1
05. Efdemin - America (Terrence Dixon Minimal Detroit Mix)
06. System Olympia - Night Rise
07. Oliver Coates - Timelapse (Walrus)
08. N.Y House'n Authority - APT. 2B
09. Computer Says No - Grab And Reform
10. D'Marc Cantu - The Will And The End
11. object blue - Even In You
12. Severed Heads - Lamborghini (Petrol 1982)
13. The Abstract Eye - Nobody Else Part 2
14. Marco Bernardi - The Light Beside the Hall
15. Via App - Chatter
16. Mount Kimbie - Southgate (DJ-Kicks)
17. Stanislav Tolkachev - Blue Mood
18. Watching Airplanes - Saboter La Machine
19. Rupert Clervaux & Beatrice Dillon - IX
20. Aleksi Perälä - UK74R1512110
21. Mount Kimbie - Blue Train Lines (Nina Kraviz Remix)
22. A Sagittariun - Contortian
23. Taz & Meeks - Obviously