Even in the inhumanly fast-paced world of dance music, it's hard to see Londoner Maya Jane Coles' rise as anything but meteoric, from releasing catchy house tunes on French label Real Tone to helming the BBC Essential Mix and remixing MK for Defected less than a year later. The widespread attraction to her own tracks is obvious: sprightly melodies, springy basslines, a knack for catchy vocal hooks (often her own), there's a sensual playfulness that comes across just as well in her DJing. Her brand of house is a smart blend of deep, tech, retro and eminently melodic, a logical meeting point between growing juggernauts like Crosstown Rebels, Hot Creations and Hypercolour. Her turn at the DJ-Kicks series—her first commercial mix CD—is a confident showing as agreeable and accessible as it is distinctive.
The one thing you can't deny about Coles' music is its unerring penchant for earworms, and her DJing is no different: almost every single track here contains some sort of vocal hook, whether it's the usual melange of syllabic soundbites (her own jaunty exclusive "Not Listening") or more elaborate full vocals (Bozzwell's wounded "In My Cocoon"). It rarely feels crowded, however, and Coles' careful grip on her watercolour brush means the splotches of colour and melody are spaced out by a gently ebbing, bubbling groove that gives way at all the right times. Her blends are the kind that bestow tracks with genuinely new and unseen dimensions—take the mix's opening stretch, where Jimmy Edgar's barebones remix of Kris Wadsworth's modern classic "Mainline" provides Chasing Kurt's slightly anemic "Money" with a chugging oomph that neither track carries by itself, propelling the mix from its earliest moments into a solidly bumping plateau.
Despite the inherent approachability of Coles' work, she's not afraid to get a little weird. Phil Kieran's "Never Believed" throws psych rock guitars into the mix, Caribou's remix of "It's A Crime" drops everything for a few bars before exploding into acid spurts and the mix's last third is a schizophrenic tour through frantic mood swings, settling down with Claro Intelecto. But as ever with Coles, her own idiosyncrasies are her strongest attribute, and the mix takes a turn into metallic dubstep with the top-heavy "Meant to Be," which throws the trajectory into a tailspin before things re-collect almost effortlessly with Zenker Brothers' "Berg 10." Combining dubstep with techno isn't anything new, but the way Coles' throws it in so briefly only to duck back into 'regular' mode is a sly and irreverent nod to the variety she's already proven capable of so early in her career.
Much like Scuba's instalment last year did with "bass music," Maya Jane Coles' turn here is a kaleidoscopic display of house music varietals united by a single but indefinable vibe. Coles isn't concerned with exclusivity, nor staying particularly up to date with brand new tracks, and she doesn't need to be—her mixing carries enough personality to make it distinctive without any of that contextual baggage. It's not a particularly flashy or technically thrilling mix, it's just one of the UK's most intriguing young DJs at the peak of her powers, a well-timed snapshot of a burgeoning big name.
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Tracklist: Maya Jane Coles - DJ-Kicks 01. Deft - Loqux & Past
02. Kris Wadsworth - Mainline (Jimmy Edgar Remix)
03. Chasing Kurt - Money
04. Bozzwell - In My Cocoon
05. Larse - Karoo
06. Milscot feat. Angela Sheik - All Alone (Domyan Just Slow Remix)
07. Adam Stacks - Hey Love
08. Phil Kieran & White Noise Sound - Never Believed
09. Sigward - Nuerd
10. Maya Jane Coles - Not Listening
11. Virgo Four - It's a Crime (Caribou Remix)
12. Roberto Bardini - Hate Me (Muteoscillator Fairy Tall Remix)
13. Tripmastaz - Guess Who
14. Standard Fair - Little Helper 16-3
15. Nocturnal Sunshine - Meant to Be
16. Zenker Brothers - Berg 10
17. Last Magpie - No More Stories
18. Zoe Zoe - Church
19. Gerry Read - Roomland (Youandewan Remix)
20. T. Williams - Analog Tour
21. Marcel Dettmann - Translation Two
22. Claro Intelecto - Hunter's Rocket to the Sky
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