Erlend Øye

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DJ-Kicks Review

by Jason Birchmeier

Certainly one of the more curious entries in the long-running DJ-Kicks series, Erlend Øye's edition rounds up the usual batch of tastefully chosen dance records, in this case a range of mainly German, or at least German-sounding, microhouse productions. That in itself isn't particularly curious -- microhouse was certainly the trendy dance sound circa 2004, with German labels like Kompakt and Perlon setting (or more precisely, having set) the trends, while most everyone else followed along. And as this mix illustrates, Øye has a keen ear, residing in Berlin (rather than his native Norway) at the time of this album's release, and he selects several excellent tracks typical of what you'd probably hear out in the more trendsetting techno clubs of that city: Jürgen Paape's "So Weit Wie Noch Nie," Justus Köhncke's "2 After 909," Jackmate's "Airraid," Ricardo Villalobos' "Dexter," Morgan Geist's "Lullaby," and Ada's "Luckycharm." Here's the curious part, though: Øye isn't your typical DJ -- he's a singing DJ, which means he likes to sing over certain tracks, or at least ad-lib over them. He does this to great lengths throughout his 18-track DJ-Kicks mix, singing over nearly half of the inclusions. And since the majority of the other, mainly neo-new wave tracks are already vocal in nature (e.g., Cornelius, Phoenix, the Rapture), the resulting overall mix is thoroughly melodic, especially given the frequency at which Øye mixes these tracks. If there's a catch, however, it's that Øye is a little challenged when it comes to mixing. Granted, he's mixing a diverse array of tracks here, and the melodic emphasis certainly doesn't make the mixing any easier, but still, jarring transitions are jarring transitions. If you can overlook this, which isn't too hard to do in light of everything else wonderful here, you have yourself one of the more curious entries in the DJ-Kicks series, one that is chock-full of tasteful selections and laden with Øye's colorful singing.

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