In a world where MP3s, WAV files and even videos can be manipulated like vinyl, does the mix CD even matter anymore? Perhaps they be even more quickly dismissed if it weren’t for the DJ-Kicks series. No matter who's behind the mix, each installment hosts a deeper probe into an artist’s inspirations as well as a continuous search for smooth blends and diverse segues.
With so much focus these days on bass-mutating sounds like dubstep or the latest post-Dilla beat sketches, it is quite telling that The Juan MacLean chose to showcase house music. Even with all the digital tools at a DJ’s disposal, Juan still turned to a pair of turntables and a handful of effects to move the crowd. It may sound like the nostalgia of decades past, but the featured selections celebrate present-day floor movers, and it sounds like house music is in very good hands.
Considering The Juan MacLean’s previous releases on the DFA label, there’s no better candidate to defend this music. His DJ-Kicks installment stays in peak hour mode from beginning to end, seamlessly mixing elements of songs and revisiting them within other selections. Theo Parrish’s dub of Rick Wilhite’s “Get On Up!!” can only be described as thumping loop ecstasy. Just as you’re giving in, Florian Meindl sneaks up from behind with the sleek yet foreboding “Here Today Gone Tomorrow.”
Things take a turn back towards the hypnotic with the acidic stabs of Armando’s “Don’t Take It” while Giom’s “I Know You Were Right” gets deep and seductive. The Juan MacLean’s exclusive track “Feel So Good” chugs along with ecstatic piano and keyboard patterns as well as the always effective vocals of LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang. A great addition to the DJ-Kicks series, house music couldn’t ask for a better ambassador right now.