The DJ-Kicks series appears to be hitting something of a stride... With several notable releases this year already in the bag, The Juan Maclean's being a particular highlight, here comes one more from IDM innovator Apparat.
And Apparat's entry certainly doesn't drop the ball. To a certain extent it does what you would expect... It's intelligent, electronic music that is built more for home listening than the dance floor, but the quality of the music and timing is good enough to make listening (repeatedly) a pleasure.
Things start off fairly heavily with Apparat's own 'Circles' - what feels almost like a trance track with a cinematic world-music guitar motif - before getting dubby on fellow IDM-ers Telefon Tel Aviv's 'Lengthening Shadows'. From there things spin out in multiple directions. This is a mix that is one moment cold, hard and clinical and the next warm and embracing.
The latter is best demonstrated by Four Tet's stunning remix of 'I Need A Life' by Born Ruffians... A track that manages to simultaneously feel like the heat of summer and joy of Christmas. It creates a neat centre for the album before things turn darker on Vincent Markowski's classic 'The Madness Of Moths' and Four Tet and Burial's 'Moth'. As Thom Yorke's haunting 'Harrowdown Hill' emerges from Ramadanman's 'Tempest' there is a stark urban feel to this album that shows the influence of Apparat's recent collaborations with Modeselektor.
The album closes on Tim Hecker's ambient melancholy drenched 'Borderlands'. Apparat's DJ-Kicks album is a serious business and that may alienate some, but it is a testament to how a good mix album can be much more than the reconstruction of a live DJ set. This is a mix album with more emotional punch and ambition than most electronic artists manage on their own studio albums, and for that BlackPlastic salutes it.