The mood is immediately set on Another Bugged Out Mix by the disco-soul stomping of Smith n' Hack's "To Our Disco Friends," a mini-hit from 2001: in Alkan's world, there isn't any contradiction in revisiting this not-so-distant past and rubbing it against acid-house classics (Obi Blanche's edit of Ron Hardy semi-seminal "Sensation"), current gritty disco (In Flagranti's "Gridlock") or Prince-hued clinical funk (Jimmy Edgar's "This One's for the Children"), all in the first 20 minutes. It is a thrilling ride indeed: the festive and carefree "Over and Over" by T.S.O.S. then perfectly grows from the punishing Gesaffelstein remix of Agoria's "Speechless" and blends into the perversely trance-ish "Never" from Scuba without sounding forced or didactic. The inclusion of Factory Floor's hypnotic "Two Different Ways" also confirms Alkan's tastes for the sonically impenetrable.
Bugged Out's selection concludes on Alkan's serene second take on "Forever Dolphin Love" (the Connan Mockasin plaintive electro-pop song he already remixed last year in a more upbeat fashion), and serves as preparation for the more low-key and eclectic Bugged In selection that follows on CD2. Alkan's sense of adventure is probably even more apparent and dizzying over here, as the folktronica of Bibio and the bass pop of newcomer Jai Paul meets indie oddities from Wales (Gorky's Zygotic Mynci), pensive Italo (Chromatics, Jan Hammer Group), expansive ambient (Nathan Fake's take on Walls), reclusive experimentation (Robert Wyatt) and vintage folk-rock from the '60s (Buffalo Springfield). What is striking in the end is the effortlessness with which Alkan navigates between genres, periods, and moods without ever losing sight of the task at hand. He shares this particular talent with others, of course, but maybe only the Optimo guys can beat him at this game. (You could easily file Another Bugged In Selection next to the Scottish selector's own flawlessly imaginative Sleepwalker mix from 2008.)
Even though Alkan has also come out of the booth in recent years to increase his producing credentials (either in collaboration with Boys Noize or Switch or under his more psychedelic Beyond The Wizards Sleeve or Disco 3000 guises), he remains a very distinguished and distinctive DJ at heart: someone to whom the simple gestures of selecting and combining isn't just a pretty cool job. It also is a vocation.