By Eric Blendermann
These are difficult days for electronic-music snobs – after years of neglect and disdain (in the U.S., anyway), the sounds of EDM are suddenly booming out of Top 40 radio and TV award shows with alarming frequency and variety. Brostep! MDNA at the Super Bowl! The mind reels. When Guetta productions become Now! staples, where can a self-respecting pair of ears escape to find something cool and obscure?
Over the past decade and a half, !K7 Records has been reliably bringing the “cool/obscure” with the DJ-Kicks series of mixes, and the latest release in the series, mixed by Maya Jane Coles (the Beatport staff pick for 2012 Artist of the Year), carries on the proud tradition. Unless you’re a DJ yourself with a warehouse full of record crates, there’s little doubt that you’ll have your consciousness raised by this collection. For fans of deep house, Coles’ DJ-Kicks mix is a treat.
In a video interview !K7 released to promote the mix, Coles describes being inspired by the sounds of the East London underground, and one imagines this mix conjures up that scene: deep, booming basslines right out front, vocals and ancillary instrumentation echoing throughout. It definitely pulls you in! Coles mentions in the video that her DJ sets are diverse, and so is this mix, but it’s a subtle thing – the tempo and sound are so consistent and the transitions so smooth, the diversity comes through in the moods: You had no idea that deep house came in so many colors.
From the analog crackle at the start of the opening track (Nocturnal Sunshine. Another standout in the mix is “Never Believed,” by techno veteran Phil Kieran &a White Noise Sound – maybe the most mournful chorus you’ll ever want to dance to. Start to finish, this DJ-Kicks set is interesting and eclectic, dark and sexy and hypnotic – a perfect antidote to the grating brightness of today’s dance pop.
Listening to Maya Jane Coles in the mix (in this mix, anyway), you might be reminded of the moodier moments in Ben Watt’s Lazy Dog sessions, or Dubtribe Sound System, or even Deep Dish’s Yoshiesque mixes (when the “progressiveness” was dialed down). That’s world-class company to be in – but judging from the quality of this mix, along with her growing catalogue of original productions and the staggering demand for her presence on the festival circuit, Maya Jane Coles is ready for the world. You’ll be glad to be able to say you were into her before anybody…