Compilations series’ come and go, but one that’s not only survived, yet constantly sought to evolve and provide the best in cutting edge music, is the legendary DJ-Kicks sets on !K7 Records. What’s always impressed about their releases has been their willingness to work with electronic artists new and more established alike, offering a challenge to them that differs a little from the day job.
The much respected compilation series has seen everyone from Carl Craig and Hot Chip to Kode9 and Chromeo take to its decks in its 16 years and stepping forward to take on the latest instalment is last year’s massive breakthrough story Gold Panda.
You’re probably aware of the following already, but the story of the Peckham-born producer’s 2010 bears repeating. Having stormed that year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton and earning US Summer tour supports with both HEALTH and Autolux, Derwin came back to the UK in October to find the nation’s blogs and critics alike going crazy over his debut LP Lucky Shiner, with DJ Magazine giving it 9/10 and the NME describing it as “just blissful” – not to mention an 8.3 back Stateside from Pitchfork. The album eventually went onto be win the 2010 edition of The Guardian’s First Album Award – for the finest debut LP to be released that year, and the introverted artist suddenly found himself thrust into the limelight.
The success has snowballed into this year, with headlining tours across Europe, the US and Australia cementing his rising reputation. The chance to take a step back from the relentless schedule and put his mind to use on the latest DJ-Kicks compilation then is a welcome change in pace, not that Derwin found it an easy transition to make; “I’d never consider myself a DJ, but through doing this I’ve really become more appreciative of it. I’ve so much more respect for people that do DJ now.”
He may have found it a challenge, but it doesn’t show on a 22 track mix (full tracklisting below) that weights perfectly between the bright awake and brooding nocturnal side of electronica – a sets that works best pulsing the headphones and emanating around the bedroom, rather than for the dancefloor. Lauded names like Zomby and Ramadanman are mixed in with new stars like Ninja Tune’s Matthewdavid and Berlin producer Pawel; “Tracks like Pawel’s ‘Coke’ and ‘Amstel’ by Opiate I sort of wanted to hide in the mix, hoping that people might go and find the original,” Derwin explains, “others I’ve gone for are because of the production; LV & Untold’s ‘Beacon,’ for instance, has all these little intricacies that makes it so interesting – [dubstep producer] Untold just seems to be a master at finding and building these lovely percussion sounds.”
The overall linear to the mix is the sense of strong melody that links all of the tracks within it; from Drexciya’s ‘Andraean Sandunes’ minimal 80s electro pop feel to Christopher Rau’s ‘Do Little,’ there’s a light touch applied throughout, counterbalanced by the more lo-freq friendly sounds of Nao Tokui’s ‘Monolith’ and ‘Shake’ by London techno producer Sigha. Altogether, the set showcases not only the breadth and depth of Derwin’s musical palette. But also an ability he’s already shown with his own material, including a brand new GP track ‘An Iceberg Hurtled Northward Through Clouds’ which opens and is exclusive to the mix and will also be committed to 12”, in keeping a constant momentum and freshness to proceedings. Of course, some tracks are simply in there because he loves them and couldn’t leave them out, “‘Puerto Rican Girls’ by Melchior & Prosanto has one of the loveliest hand claps ever, and then there’s ‘Maria’ by Closer Musik which has been a complete favourite of mine for a number of years.”
Though for Gold Panda the day job rumbles on, with an upcoming tour to Asia and the UK this October, Derwin may even the chance to sit down and work on a second album (“around Christmas time,” he speculates). This contribution to the justifiably celebrated DJ-Kicks catalogue is one of the most essential yet, proving that midway through its second decade, the series is still going from strength to strength.
1. Gold Panda – An Iceberg Hurtled Northward Through Clouds (DJ-Kicks)
2. Melchior & Pronsato – Puerto Rican Girls
3. Bok Bok – Charisma Theme
4. Drexciya – Andreaen Sand Dunes
5. Muslimgauze – Uzi Mahmood 8
6. Pawel – Coke
7. Ramadanman – Revenue (Untold Remix)
8. SND – Palo Alto
9. Zomby – Godzilla
10. Closer Musik – Maria
11. Gold Panda – Back Home
12. Christopher Rau – Do Little
13. Jan Jelinek – If’s, And’s And But’s
14. Nao Tokui – Monolith
15. Sigha – Shake
16. Opiate – Amstel
17. 2562 – Dinosaur
18. Matthewdavid – Like You Mean It
19. Brainiac – The Turnover
20. LV & Untold – Beacon
21. Autistici – Heated Dust On A Sunlit Window
22. Giuseppe Ielasi – 2