The !K7 electronic music label is best known in recent years for its incredible DJ-KICKS compilations—mixtapes, essentially, compiled by a certain international electronic artist of impressive renown (at least within the genre), containing select jams from favorite DJ sets or a flavoring of fellow admired producers. On the whole, these comps make for great (lazy) party music, with each track segueing seamlessly into the next, requiring little sequencing effort on behalf of the host.
A !K7 requirement on each of these compilations is that the artist-in-residence contribute at least one totally original composition—a sexy freebie for fans, and some of which are here collected in a second installment of their comp-of-comps, The Exclusives. These tracks are culled from the last five years’ worth of releases and include acts as popular as ever-palatable dance band Hot Chip, nü-sleaze-pop duo Chromeo, and the decadently moody producer Apparat.
The immediate downside of an album like Exclusives is obvious—if you’re already a fan of the series, then you’ve likely heard or own most of these tracks anyhow. (For instance, I’ve had a few friends already cop that brilliant Chromeo Eagles cover for their own mixes. It’s a solid rendering but prone to feeling as drowsy as the original after too many listens.) Furthermore, as much as an Exclusives collection might advertise itself as a best-of-best-of, it’s not always the case. A one-off track by a skillful performer isn’t necessarily going to be their magnum opus and can sometimes even feel particularly uninspired. However, it’s safe to argue that these cuts are collectors’ items, even if their value is over all a bit specious.
Dullness isn’t by any means the presiding mood here, though Exclusives might not be the best resource for a thumping dance party, simply because some artists are chiller than others. The first all-out banger is the Hot Chip track, “My Piano,” with their customarily ear-wormy chantable choruses. As for other non-surprises, Apparat’s “Sayulita” is as taut and slow-burning as is his tendency. However, Four Tet’s synth-themed opener, while characteristically hypnotic, feels a bit more neon than usual and “Soul Clap” by Lonely C and Charles Levine is a perfect mutant-disco epic. The teaser track, recent Grammy-nominee Photek’s collaboration with Kuru from his as-yet-unreleased DJ-KICKS installment is a well-chosen ambient finale that gives us another comp to sleuth out.
As with the previous turn, the second Exclusives is choice for quick access to DJ-KICKS–approved artists and probably necessary for a series devotee. However, if you’re a hardcore DJ connoisseur who’s looking for new tracks to scour or brain-blasting innovation, this comp will feel charming but indubitably conventional.