Various Artists

DJ-Kicks: The Exclusives [2012]

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In 2006, after ten years and 25 volumes of their celebrated DJ-Kicks mix series, !K7 ran a well-deserved victory lap with DJ-Kicks: The Exclusives, collecting many of the bespoken original tracks customarily included in each of the mixmakers' sets. A mere six years and 13 (going on 14) volumes later, they're repeating the feat with a release confusingly also titled DJ-Kicks: The Exclusives, this time including exclusive cuts from all but one of the intervening compilations (for some reason Booka Shade's 2007 installment is shut out). The results work somewhat surprisingly well as a full-length listening experience (the selections are simply sequenced chronologically), and less surprisingly as an excellent survey of the last half-decade of forward-thinking dance music. Moody, soulful, gently jazzy downtempo house (most evident in the Henrik Schwarz and Motor City Drum Ensemble selections) feels like the most common denominator, but we also get snappy, funky 2-step grooves (Kode9, Photek), cheerily smooth vocal dance-pop (Hot Chip, Chromeo's delectably cheesy talkboxed Eagles cover), as well as Scuba's dark tech-step, Holden's lovely, meandering pastoral electronica, and an extended disco/house workout from the Juan MacLean. (The latter two, in particular, are expanded considerably from the versions that appeared on their respective mixes.) All told, it's an inessential but highly enjoyable piece of work, an excellent aural scrapbook for fans of the series, and (save for the nauseous-robot voice in Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap's slightly painful "Lonely C," definitely the sorest thumb here) just a good time all around.

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