The beauty of !K7’s DJ Kicks series is that it gives notable artists the chance to do something all music nerds wish they could get paid for: make a mix tape. In the case of Norwegian singer-songwriter/Kings of Convenience better half Erlend Oye, the mix is evidently one of a music lover rather than just a deejay. His remixes rarely cross over beats and effects, but they do add one important new layer: his graceful voice.
Throughout his set, Oye demonstrates that he may in fact have the Midas touch: every cut that features his vocals shines, while the others don’t come close to such greatness. That his voice doesn’t quite grace every track is probably due to his reluctance to show off (not to mention that he only sings over the album’s instrumentals), but Oye’s strength is clearly behind the microphone rather than the turntables.
The stretch of tunes between Alan Braxa and Fred Falke’s “Rubicon” and Uusi Fantasia’s “Lattialla Taas” is far too long a span devoid of Oye’s vocals, but when he returns to the mike, he fails to disappoint. The spoken “Intergalactic Autobahn” (Oye’s own lyrics over the instrumental “2 After 909” by Justus Kohncke) is an atmospheric delight, and leads beautifully into the original “The Black Keys Work.” But the clear highlight of the body of the set is Royskopp’s “Poor Leno,” used as an instrumental track for Oye’s rendition of the Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” Morrissey’s haunting melody and lyrics sound perfect when fused with the stormy bass line and pumping beat, and Oye’s vocals are unfaltering.
His other vocal tracks are equally interesting experiments. Elvis’s “Always on My Mind” surfaces above a driving track by Skateboard, and Bananarama’s “Venus” briefly appears over “Lattialla Taas.” Save for the harmonies that grace Phoenix’s glorious neo-disco capsule “If I Ever Feel Better,” most of the other vocal contributions that appear are Oye’s own originals. Elements of his mostly clunky Unrest album appear twice, the first being “Sheltered Life,” beautifully remade with Oye’s rendition of Miss Jane’s club staple “It’s A Fine Day.” Later on, some lyrics from “Prego Amore” pop up over “Radio Jolly” by Jolly Music, who produced the choppy original “Prego” track on 2003’s Unrest.
The set is diverse and the beat never stops, unless you count the inclusion of Avenue D’s blatantly stupid “2D2F” as a break in itself. (The chorus, “Don’t get too drunk to fuck / You’ve got to get it up,” is just too much of a stretch from the ethereal atmosphere of the rest of the songs, though I suppose the Rapture’s “I Need Your Love” could be construed as a more subtle expression of the same sentiment.) Between the tracks sung by Oye and those that unfortunately aren’t, the mix flows with relative ease and makes for one hour of a booty-shakin’ good time.