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Kode9: Sorting things out on DJ-Kicks

img  Tobias Fischer

Tellingly, his approach is not just marked by a healthy dose of pragmatism. Where others are endlessly debating about whether or not Burial's „DJ-Kicks“-contribution is still coming or not (it is definitely not, according to the Hyperdub Facebook-page), Kode9's mix eschews hypes and expectations and focuses on delivering an adrenaline-soaked journey through dubstep, a plethora of associated styles and their particular charms instead. Including acts like Ikonika, Aardvarck, Zomby, Cooly G and The Bug, the track-list alone was enough to raise expectations sky-high. And yet the album never resorts to the kind of namedropping a lot of comparable compilations are prone to, feeding from a palpable tension, lightningspeed transitions and a spontaneous, yet careful selection. „Colourful“ is undoubtedly an apt adjective to describe the final mix, with 31 tracks passing by in just over an hour and the longest one clocking in at a mere three and a half minutes. „I’ve done countless studio mixes over the last few years, you just get going and enter the zone“, Goodman says, „I like to keep the mix moving pretty fast and not have any one individual track playing for too long. I also like to hear the tension between tracks in the mix, the friction caused by two tracks rubbing up against each other.“

It doesn't sound a bit contrived therefore, if the album should open with the melodic oldschool techno-house of Lone's „Once in a while“ and the polyrhythmic percussion-plantation of Aardvarck's „Revo“, feature Kode9's DJ-Kicks exclusive „You don't wash Dub“ (a lightfilled hymn comprising a one-note marimba-pulse, a glowing two-chord loop, a dry three-tone bass-lick and a joyfully pumping four-to-the-floor-kick-drum) as well as over-the-top string massacre „Jumeirah Riddim Sequel“ and close with The Bug's morter-dub „Run“.

If this seemingly maniacal approach should still sound remarkably organic, this is because Goodman's perspective on space is simple to „let bass and drums breathe“, thereby allowing each track to fully unfold and develop despite the breakneck turnover rate. Even more importantly, Kode9's „DJ-Kicks“ doesn't just randomly jump about but in fact adheres to a stringent masterplan: After opening with a couple of instantly captivating compositions, the album enters a transitional zone, in which Goodman works with warmer sounds, anthemic synthesizer-glissandi and soulful moods – a surprise for outsiders, perhaps, but in fact quite a logical conclusion if one takes his approach to DJing into consideration: „I don't do seamless, imperceptible mixing. I did the bit in the middle specifically because it was not a club DJ set and wanted to break up the seemlessness with a kind of interlude.“ In the final section, then, he launches into an incredibly focused selection of dark, disturbing tunes consisting almost entirely of pure rhythm and darkly beguiling sound effects - a tour de force of surreal images and striking sparsity: „The final third of the album is one that is most closely related to dubstep. At its best, dubstep was just a subbass and rhythmic matrix for understanding music at large. I tried to capture in that final 3rd some of the best dubstep that has been around recently and that functions as a prism in the this way, refracting, dub, house, juke, grime into a consistent sound.“

Even though the press release emphasises the fact that the album leans heavily towards London, Goodman disagrees with that impression: „Of course there are many interesting international mutations - it's not all British on the mix. There is some American, spacey R&B, some old broken beat from Holland.“ Like the most efficient of curators, Kode9 has cleverly chunked these different groups of things together on an international level – quite clearly, you can always count on him to sort things out in the end.

Homepage: Kode9
Homepage: !K7 Records
Homepage: Kode9 DJ-Kicks Microsite
Homepage: Hyperdub Records

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