Well, if I’m doing a series on my favorite single records, why not a similar one for my favorite albums of all-time, those I truly can’t (and wouldn’t want to ever) live without?
Connecting with my last post, Erlend Øye’s entry in !K7’s long-running DJ-Kicks series was my #1 album of 2004, and still more than holds up today, 13+ years later. I don’t particularly care about Øye as a solo artist or as half of Kings of Convenience, but his taste in early-mid-’00s techno-and-such and talent in mixing said records together is fucking superb. From DFA’s scene-setters the Rapture to European techno folks like Justus Köhncke and Jürgen Paape, and also encompassing the likes of French touch icons Alan Braxe & Fred Falke, not to mention electroclash jokesters Avenue D, this is a wider-reaching mix than you might expect, and yet 100% cohesive. That’s thanks not only to Øye’s mixing, but his thing for “intro”ing records by singing their hooks as he’s mixing them into his set, such as he does with the Rapture’s “I Need Your Love,” singing its opening verse immediately before lead singer Luke Jenner does the same.
Øye also understands how a great mix should unfold and evolve, such as when he allows a remix of his own “The Black Keys Work” to vanish into the ether, switching gears completely into the Underworld-esque techno workout of “Airraid” by Jackmate. And segues aren’t the only times he likes to sing, either (even referring to himself on one track as “the singing DJ”): Øye sings acapella bits of songs you know (from their lyrics) over instrumental tracks, like topping Skateboard’s “Metal Chix” with his own voice singing bars of “Always on My Mind” — and then stitching that into Ricardo Villalobos’s microhouse cut “Dexter.”
This DJ-Kicks volume is constantly undulating, yet always warm and inviting, its surfaces encouraging you to go deeper and spend more time curled up in its embrace. And even though some of the styles spotlighted here have dated a bit with time, the mix as a whole always sounds fresh; Øye’s work here makes this one of my favorite commercially released mixes of all time.