Claude Young - DJ-KicksA young club DJ might feel some back pain at the thought of having to carry a hefty vinyl-filled bag to a gig. It wasn't long ago when the only method was playing actual records on actual turntables. Then, the concept of computer-based DJ'ing -- clicking a music file and using software to match its beat to another music file's beat -- seemed as out there as precognitive crime prevention. Just as DJ'ing has advanced, mix CDs have developed from recordings of on-the-fly two-turntable DJ'ing to something cleaner. There are exceptions, like Jeff Mills' Exhibitionist and Richie Hawtin's DE9: Transitions, but mixes involving little skill or sweat are increasingly pervasive. Here's a look at two exceptional and mostly forgotten mix albums released when there was one way to make them.

Claude Young's DJ-Kicks: Released just after a move from his hometown of Detroit to London, Young's contribution to !K7's then-new mix series showcases a master DJ's view of mid '90s techno, much of which comes from fellow Detroiters and German peers. Those who follow the current dance music identified simply as "minimal" might be taken aback by the certifiable minimalities of these tracks. Despite that, there's nothing stern about the set. It's rather playful, in fact. As Young states on the back, "I usually play two copies, bounce the beats around, do spinbacks and scratch tricks. I don't mind taking a chance. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but life is all about taking chances." The sequence's momentum carries an optimal amount of energy without being overbearingly assaultive.
    Maurizio - M5 (sample)
    Claude Young - Acid Wash Conflict (sample)
    Man Made - Space Wreak (sample)
    Dopplereffekt - Speak + Spell (sample)

Kirk Degiorgio - Check OneKirk Degiorgio's Check One: Also released in 1996, Check One encompasses drum'n'bass, moody U.K./Detroit-style techno (including some of Degiorgio's own productions), and electronically enhanced jazz. Thirty years separate the oldest selection from the latest, making a strong case for Degiorgio's assertion that techno -- or, at least the kind of techno he favors -- is an extension of jazz, even though most dance music aesthetes are quicker to mention electro and industrial. Degiorgio pulls up a few long buried soul-jazz and fusion truffles (a couple of which have since been reissued), adeptly connecting them to relatively latter-day classics produced by Photek, Carl Craig (as 69), and the unjustly unsung Anthony Shakir (as Shake). Disc two's opening five tracks provide one of the more thrilling combinations of cohesion and diversity that you are likely to hear within any mix.
    Julian Priester - Love, Love (sample)
    Sean Deason - Vortex (sample)
    Elegy - Flights of Fantasy (sample)
    Joe Henderson - Terra Firma (sample)