Motor City Drum Ensemble

DJ-Kicks

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AllMusic Review by

For the 36th edition of their venerable DJ Kicks series, K7 Records tapped producer/DJ Danilo Plessow, alias Motor City Drum Ensemble, an individual who hails not from Detroit but from the German automotive center of Stuttgart (home to Mercedes and Porsche). Though his fondness for the manifold classic grooves of America's Motown is amply evident in his own productions and remixes -- including, notably, the jazzy, funky Moodymann-indebted house workouts of his Raw Cuts series -- that's hardly the extent of his inspirations, as this mix makes clear. Indeed, Plessow's brought together a dizzying array of tracks in nearly as many different styles: after an opening invocation from Sun Ra, he leads us on a freewheeling trip through soul (New Zealand's Electric Wire Hustle, via an irresistibly slinky Scratch 22 remix), dub (Rhythm & Sound), Afro-beat (Tony Allen, Geraldo Pino), classic Chicago acid trax (Mr. Fingers), and Detroit techno (Robert Hood), deep house (Fred P.), funky disco (a Walter Gibbons mix of Arts & Crafts' "I've Been Searching"), jazz (Timo Lassy), film music (Philippe Sarde's chugging "Le Cortège et Course"), and even an unexpectedly funky, early Aphex Twin "ambient" work. Of course, genre names are just so many words, and these cuts all basically have more in common than they do differentiating them: shared roots in African-American musical vernacular, of course, for one thing, but above all, in a word: groove. As you might imagine, Plessow simply finds that shared groove (at least, he makes it sound simple) and runs with it, keeping his transitions fluid, clean, and remarkably smooth. Actually, if there's a complaint to be lodged here it's that the mix is a little too seamless: too few tracks really manage to stick out above the generally high-quality, head-nodding flow, especially after about 20 minutes when things really start to simmer. In fact, perhaps the most startling, ear-catching moment here -- the acid-squelch synth that unexpectedly burbles up in Isolée's monstrously funky mix of Recloose's "Cardiology" -- turns out to belong to the original track. In keeping with DJ Kicks tradition, MCDE also contribute a bespoke new production, "L.O.V.E.," a no-nonsense funky strutter that effectively distills the essence of the entire affair, minimal and a bit murky, but still grittily satisfying. Perhaps most readily comparable to Henrik Schwarz's 2006 installment in the series (though it doesn't quite reach that mix's level of soulful spirituality, focusing more exclusively on groove and moody ambience), Plessow clinches yet another feather in K7's towering cap: one that's smartly assembled, artfully sequenced, impeccably tasteful, and indelibly tasty.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Sun Ra
1:26
2 1:44
3 3:17
4
feat: Tony Allen
3:28
5 4:01
6 2:57
7
feat: Mr. Fingers
2:32
8 3:59
9
feat: Stone
2:38
10 4:04
11 2:36
12 2:50
13 2:21
14
feat: Robert Hood
2:18
15
feat: Loose Joints
2:39
16 2:24
17 4:18
18
feat: Aphex Twin
4:10
19
feat: Recloose
5:45
20
feat: Latecomer
3:10
21
feat: Timo Lassy
6:29
22
feat: James Mason
5:20
blue highlight denotes track pick