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DJ-Kicks

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Rupert Parkes took the "after-the-club soundtrack" route to making his DJ-Kicks mix. The veteran producer constructed this set for the ride home, or a small after-hours gathering, or a solitary listen through headphones. Known most for his cerebral and intricate drum'n'bass releases throughout the '90s, Parkes never went dormant but, in 2011, he issued five pieces of vinyl, including one on crucial dubstep hub Tectonic. Like those releases, his DJ-Kicks slides between downtempo, close-to-minimal techno, and the nocturnal and atmospheric end of dubstep -- a sound that owes his early work a debt of gratitude. He's evidently remained an active listener, as only one track (Baby Ford & Eon's "Dead Eye," also featured on Stacey Pullen's '96-issued DJ-Kicks) was issued earlier than 2009. In spite of the aim to function as pre-sleep listening, and the cover shot of Parkes nodding off (or maybe he's just deep in thought), the mix is hardly ambient and is not short on intense and physical moments. Several of his own productions debut here: the opening "Azymuth" (full of crisp, forceful drums), "No Agenda" (a brief "bridge" track), "Fountainhead" (a taut collaboration with Kuru), and "Levitation" (one of the more dynamic and head-swirling tracks). He also interweaves some highlights from recent releases, including a mean acid techno co-production with Tectonic's Pinch, and what's presumably another collaboration -- credited to Parxe & Grincheux -- that is in a constant state of push and pull between clamping percussion and jutting synthesizer strings. Other highlights include one of Sepalcure's whooshing black-heart anthems, Morgan Geist's placid and prickly dub of Hot Toddy's "I Need Love," and Synkro's aching "Look at Yourself." It's all arranged like a well-sequenced album, with some tracks slightly altered for the sake of maintaining a steady flow. No energy swing is jarring, yet it's no sonic flatland. It suits its purpose with a dark, warm glow.

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