The mix begins slowly and delicately with cuts from Porn Sword Tobacco and Burial swirling together, with the words of Forest Whitaker (from the film ‘Ghostdog’) drifting over the top: ‘Stick with the ancient ways, the old school ways’ – a fitting precursor to the records that follow.
To begin what seems to be a rather intentional music lesson, Smoke introduces the mighty sounds of ‘Radiance 1’ by Basic Channel, following it with Juan Atkins under his Model 500 alias. Next up is a second helping of Basic Channel, this time in the form of a Rhythm & Sound remix. Suprisingly, after building this rather chilled, dubby vibe, Smoke then drops the Gaiser version of ‘25 Bitches’ by Troy Pierce, an excellent record, no doubt, but an awkward fit with the previous tracks. Despite slowing the BPMs down, Smoke can’t quite take the sting out of this monster. The selection seems all the more out of place because we immediately move back to Detroit with tracks from Stewart Walker vs Theorem, Aril Brikha and Robert Hood, whose ‘Detroit: One Circle’ makes it very clear what ‘old school ways’ Smoke is reminding us of.
Next up is an awkward selection again – this time an instantly recognisable Thomas Brinkmann track is placed uncomfortably between Hood and Smoke’s last nod to Motor Town, Claro Intelecto’s ‘Peace Of Mind’. Smoke then decides to make a very clear break, changing direction away from Detroit and turning to the kind of sounds he has built his reputation on: the new ‘ways’ of Berlin. A series of good records follow, all in their own ways pushing a stripped back, vigorous feel designed to get things moving. But while these provide us with a nice little glitch funk workout, the sounds can’t help but clash with the dub and Detroit styles Smoke had built up the mix with.
This uneasy tension between old and new ‘ways’ runs throughout the whole CD, and it is only with the final two tracks that it is resolved. The Vapid mix of ‘Always & Forever’ is Smoke at his emotive best – cut up, off balance and beautifully distorted – before the CD fittingly closes with 2000 and One’s ‘Fokuz’, which despite being a new record, has a simple but effective acid riff that gives it a perfect old-school feel. Here the old and new come together.
It is hard to fully know what to make of Smoke’s ‘Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi.’ The track selection is truly sublime, but still the mix doesn’t quite work. Mostly, there isn’t the right balance between old and new ‘ways’, with Smoke failing to create a coherent identity or idea for his mix. Is it Berlin? Is it Detroit? Of course one doesn’t have to choose, but the manner in which Smoke compiles them means the mix as a whole doesn’t quite cohere. A brave attempt, but perhaps not as successful as most of his productions.