DJ-Kicks is a big deal for Avery. It's his biggest project since Drone Logic and his first mix since Fabriclive 66, the release that first brought him to a wider audience. That one was effervescent and colourful, the product of a producer who came up under Erol Alkan's wing. DJ-Kicks, on the other hand, is as stark as its cover photograph, brooding and monochrome from start to finish. It's a rock-solid techno mix with few surprises or left turns. Avery can hold his own in this style, but a collection of tracks from artists like Planetary Assault Systems, Shlømo and Artefakt might not have the same crossover appeal he's used to.
That said, the mix is still full of drama and striking moments. The first one happens early on, when the ominous drones of Rrose's remix of Avery's "Sensation" streak across the stereo spectrum, after In Aeternam Vale's ambient intro sets the pitch-black mood. Ulwhednar's "Stortorget" helps kick the mix into high gear and blends perfectly into Artefakt's barnstorming "The Fifth Planet." Post Scriptum's excellent "Donbelief" arrives next, driven by a repetitive spoken word sample—the kind that used to be Avery's signature.
Through the mix's midsection and back half, Avery lets the tracks play out longer than many techno DJs would—Artefakt's "The Fifth Planet" goes on for ten minutes—highlighting their intricacies and allowing them to build momentum. That energy spills over into an explosive finale that peaks with an exclusive track from Avery, the gritty rave-up "A Mechanical Sky," which invokes the throbbing basslines of Drone Logic in a new, pared-down setting.
Avery's mixing style sets him apart from other techno DJs, who might prefer to intricately stitch tracks together or simply slam into new ones with hot mixes. His approach comes to life at the end, with Edit Select's remix of Slam's "Cirklon Bells." It's a rigid tune that could fall flat in the hands of many other DJs, but the way Avery lets it breathe highlights the killer string melody, heightening the drama just by giving it some space. Even if he's working with more straight-laced techno these days, Avery's personality still shines through.
Tue / 15 Nov 2016
01. In Aeternam Vale - Soundscape I
02. Daniel Avery - Sensation (Rrose Remix)
03. Shlømo - Vertigo
04. Planetary Assault Systems - Dungeon
05. Ekserd - Hidden Document II (Svreca Remix)
06. BLNDR - Untitled 3 (Modvs Remix)
07. Ulwhednar - Stortorget
08. Artefakt - The Fifth Planet
09. Post Scriptum - Donbelief
10. JP Enfant - Sirens
11. IORI - Maya // Rote - Look In Your Eyes
12. Lewis Fautzi - Blood
13. Daniel Avery - A Mechanical Sky (DJ-Kicks Exclusive)
14. Slam - Cirklon Bells (Edit Select Remix)
15. Daniel Avery - Space Echo