Mathias Kaden: Watergate 14
Watergate Records

These days, the challenge confronting the DJ mixer is obvious: figuring out how to distinguish the mix in question from all the others crowding the marketplace. With that goal in mind, Mathias Kaden (who's issued material on Vakant, Freude Am Tanzen, and Desolat) brings a number of wise strategies to his contribution to the Watergate series, such as working exclusives in amongst the previously released cuts (five out of twenty-two, to be exact) and emphasizing a multi-layered percussive approach. But, aware of the fact that any mix lives or dies on the strength of its content, Kaden makes some excellent choices in his setlist, and it's this that ultimately proves to be the most critical factor in determining the impact of his release. Two cuts in particular stand out, the first appearing early and the other halfway through: DJ Koze's “Nices Wölkchen,” which sounds as splendid in this context as it does on his recent Pampa album, Amygdala, especially when it's got Apparat's seductive vocal riffs along for the ride, and Alejandro Paz's infectious Cómeme cut “El House,” whose roiling, bass-powered stomp and terse vocal testifying make for an irresistible, floor-filling combination.

They're hardly the only moments of note in the sixty-eight-minute mix, however. After Merveille & Crosson set the stage for Koze with aquatic-ambient splendour (“Nymphean”), the mix's breezy groove locks into position thereafter as an ever-replenishing life-force. Body-movers are plentiful: the percolating, old-school vibe of Ron Trent's “Kids At Play”; the crisp snap'n'swing of Rodriguez Jr.'s “Nausicâa” and The Mole's “Lockdown Party”; the burbling funk of Marco Resmann's “D. Teacher,” Ricardo Villalobos's “HansUp,” and Tapesh & Maximiljan's “This Is.” Cuts by Motor City Drum Ensemble (“SP 11”), Moodymann (“4 One Night”), and Roman Flügel (“More More More”) also appear, and with most tracks in the two- to three-minute range, changes happen frequently but not so fast that the set feels fractured. Watergate 14 is hardly the greatest mix ever assembled, but the ride is certainly pleasurable and scenic enough to warrant a recommendation.

November 2013