It's one thing for a mix CD to put across a sense that the listener is in expert hands. There's not a second you're unaware of it during Scuba's volume of DJ-Kicks—the Berghain regular tasked himself with delivering something akin to his final set of the night at the Berlin club, which typically runs over three hours, and it's easy to hear that he's condensed a long set's progression into a CD's length. But it's another to give the impression that you're having a really good time putting all those records together, and in that sense Scuba's DJ-Kicks succeeds handsomely as well. We can imagine these 32 tracks stretched out in three hours, and we can enjoy the way they squeeze into 76 minutes equally well.
Somehow, this doesn't seem commonplace, especially given the recent spate of podcast and web-available "flurry-mixes," which put so many tracks into such tight little spaces that it becomes a kind of can-you-top-this frenzy. Scuba doesn't seem like he's in a particular hurry; he keeps things moving for sure, but he creates a flowing line rather than a blip-fest, even as his selections vary widely in tone, attack and flavor.
Still, there's a thread of unease in my enjoyment. Whatever the varied lineages of the tracks on offer here, their beats line up so seamlessly that those differences seem like matters of small degree, rather than the enjoyable clashes that have been so attractive about much of the last few years of dubstep-related DJs' genre-mixing. It's there right at the top: After some leadoff atmosphere from Sigha, Surgeon's "The Power of Doubt" creeps up, its slow-building intensity offset just right by the limpid synth and insistent subs of "For Tonight," by D-Bridge. It's the next step after the SCB 12-inch on Aus and the Back & 4th comp—the point where excitement gives way to neatness.
There are neat percussive touches on some of these tracks: the clanks running under Peverlist's "Sun Dance," the reverse-run kick drum in the breakdown of Addison Groove's purple-synth-dancehall "An We Drop," the yelping syn-tom of Jon Convex's "Streetwalk." But the dark intensity of last year's Sub: Stance mix has lightened considerably here—the neat segue of "Streetwalk" into the bubbly, electro-lined "Don't Walk Away with My Love," by Mr. Beatnick, tells the tale. Even Sex Worker's semi-ghostly cover of Corona's "Rhythm of the Night"—the mix's selection from L.A.'s Not Not Fun—seems less spectral here. (Especially against Corona's original, which I love.) I hope Scuba doesn't get too maximalist, but he wages a good argument for being one here.
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Tracklist: Scuba - DJ-Kicks 01. Sigha - HF029B2
02. Surgeon - The Power of Doubt
03. DBridge - For Tonight
04. Badawi - Lost Highway (Incyde Remix)
05. Peverelist - Sun Dance
06. Until Silence - The Affair
07. Addison Groove - An We Drop
08. Roska - Leapfrog
09. Trevino - Shorty
10. Beaumont - CPX11
11. Function - Two Ninety One
12. Braille - Breakup
13. Quest - Everybody in the Place
14. Sigha - Let Me In
15. George FitzGerald - Shackled
16. Jon Convex - Streetwalk
17. Mr Beatnick - Don't Walk Away From My Love
18. Boddika - Acid Battery
19. Marcel Dettmann - Captivate
20. Arkist - Rendez-Vous (SCB Edit)
21. Locked Groove - Drowning
22. Recloose - Tecumseh
23. Sigha - Where I Come To Forget
24. Sex Worker - Rhythm of the Night
25. Scuba - M.A.R.S.
26. Jichael Mackson - Gedons
27. Rivet - Running S
28. Recondite - Backbone
29. Ludovic Vendi - Mental Bright
30. Rivet - Slant
31. Scuba - Adrenalin
32. Sepalcure - Inside
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