A man who once confessed to spending aeons replicating the sound of a ninja throwing star to form percussion, the intricate beat programming on the drum & bass records Rupert Parkes produced as Photek during the mid-'90s almost felt like OCD. His tracks for Metalheadz or 1997's Modus Operandi LP on Science often seemed equally impenetrable to outsiders. So far removed from the rest of drum & bass, they weren't so much singular as solipsistic. This was introspective music for headphone connoisseurs rather than dance floor fodder for the drum & bass scene Photek effectively renounced with the house and techno of 2000's Solaris album.
Parkes' relative silence throughout most of the '00s was broken last year with the Avalanche and Aviator EPs on his Photek Productions label. This new outlook hinted at the icy electronics of fellow Metalheadz veterans Source Direct and the dubstep-techno hybrids of Pinch; and with the release of Photek's Closer EP on Pinch's Tectonic label another signpost towards this new direction was planted, a sound he explores in depth on his contribution to the DJ-Kicks series.
Photek's selections here all point towards a man still more at home in his own cerebellum than a club. It's not just the meditative tempo, for while dubstep's basslines might normally be designed to physically punch, on tracks like Kromestar's "In 2 Minds" or the Boddika remix of Photek's own "101" the low-end sounds more like repressed memories bubbling to the surface.
The mixing seems intended to toy with your subconscious, particularly when he blends in suggestive hints of his new track "No Agenda" over the hypnotic house of Baby Ford and Eon's "Dead Eye" without ever letting it fully drop. And while—post-Burial—the rave requiem conceit is now as clichéd as hearing "My Way" played at a wake, Sepalcure's "Taking You Back" unavoidably evokes rave's last rites as a diva sample is dropped into an echoing pit. Yet while this mix is missing anything as technically awe-inspiring or individual as Photek's '90s drum & bass work, it's also devoid of the same sense of clinical detachment, replaced instead with a more human and emotional touch, discernible in the plaintive vocal sample of Synkro's "Look At Yourself." Photek's DJ-Kicks might sound like a long, dark night of the soul, but at least a soul is there.
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Tracklist: Photek - DJ-Kicks 01. Photek - Azymuth
02. Kromestar - In 2 Minds
03. Hot Toddy feat. Ron Basejam - I Need Love (Morgan Geist's Love Dub)
04. DLX - Modern Man
05. DJG - Here Come The Dark Lights
06. Dustmite & Kuru - Dare
07. Photek & Pinch - M25FM
08. Photek - No Agenda
09. Baby Ford + Eon - Dead Eye
10. Marco Effe - Sexgas (Arnaud Le Texier Remix)
11. DJG - Say Something
12. Guy J & Miriam Vaga - No Under But You
13. Daze Maxim - Tomorrow Universe
14. Sepalcure - Taking You Back
15. Photek - Levitation
16. Photek & Kuru - Fountainhead
17. Synkro - Look At Yourself
18. Photek - 101 (Boddika Remix)
19. Parxe & Grincheux - The Art Of Nothing Pt. 1