As !K7’s DJ Kicks series slowly works its way through the electronic-music world, the artist selection is gravitating toward big, recognizable, current names. With Four Tet’s offering, the series has almost officially turned its back on the techno, drum ‘n’ bass, and dubby down-tempo and instead embraced the hipster crowd it’s been flirting with ever since Erlend Øye‘s and Tiga’s entries.
And that’s okay. If the series isn’t picking more up-and-coming artists such as Victor Duplaix and focusing instead on established names, at least it’s maintained a high level of quality, something with which Four Tet, a.k.a. Kieren Hebden, has always been identified. This mix is no different: Hebden employs Juan Atkins, Animal Collective, So Solid, and Shona People of Rhodesia to create a wide-ranging, mostly satisfying mix.
The opening improvised track from David Behrman displays a lot of the record’s weaknesses. It starts the album off slow, and it doesn’t really feel necessary until it glides through Syclops’ “Mom, the Video Broke” into Curtis Mayfield, creating a build-up that launches the mix into an impressive payoff. The moments like this are invigorating and bold, but they can also be too heady and not gutsy enough. And unfortunately, the mixing can be awkward; a few tracks bump against each other (and why the unnecessary spacing at the beginning of “Love is How Ya Make It”?). Hebden certainly took some time on this mix and put a great deal of thought into it, but any kind of unified cohesion is thrown out the window in exchange for a kind of intellectual association. Rather than hiding the seams, Four Tet seems to want you to stare at them and ask, “Why were these two things stitched together?”
It creates an interesting listen and enjoyable conversation piece, but top-shelf deejay mix it is not. And that seems to be much more interesting to the minds behind the DJ Kicks series at this point. No longer concerned at all with the mix community (and I dare you to try to dance to this), this is the new face of electronic, sweaters and all. By the time Group Home’s “Up Against the Wall (Getaway Car Mix)” ends with thirty seconds of high-pitched tweaking before Autechre’s classic “Flutter,” you feel like you just sat through a lecture, albeit a kind of kick-ass take-charge one.
!K7 Web site (streaming audio)Four Tet on !K7’s Web site