Kode9: Rinse: 22

On paper, Steve Goodman's Kode9 mix for Rinse looks promising—certainly any compilation mix that couples cuts by Hyperdub artists DVA, Burial, and Morgan Zarate with material by grime figures Champion, Faze Miyake, and Terror Danjah and footwork artists like DJ Manny, DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, and DJ Earl has got to be good, right? The first hint that things might not be so perfect is that Goodman's squeezed thirty-seven cuts into a sixty-five-minute running time.

On the plus side, the mix includes three Kode9 originals, the previously issued “Xingfu Lu” and the previously unreleased “Uh” and “Kan,” and it gets off to a strong start with Burial's “Truant,” a prototypically haunting and seductive set-piece by the reclusive artist. Its mood is shattered, however, by the rapid onset of Theo Parrish's “Kites on Pluto” and Morgan Zarate's “Pusher Taker,” moves that take the mix into a more uptempo and oft-frenzied zone from which it thenceforth rarely deviates. Stylistic contrasts are definitely present, but once the mix is underway few changes in dynamics and tempo occur.

Some tracks, such as The Bug's “Dirty,” Cashmere Cat's “Aurora,” and “Xingfu Lu,” are so strong they succeed despite their truncated running time. Kuedo's stirring “Mirtazapine,” with its melancholic synth lines and percussive rolls, and Visionist's “Something Old Something New,” with its memorable marriage of stuttering vocal effects and rat-a-tat snares, are two such examples, even if together they total a mere two minutes. The mix noticeably shifts into footwork mode for its final third, with RP Boo's heady “Steamidity” and “Red Hot” leading the charge and eight cuts given over to DJ Rashad (with collaborators like DJ Manny and DJ Spinn) to close out the mix, highlighted by his “Brighter Days” and set-closer “Let It Go.”

But with track lengths so short (twenty-eight check in at less than two minutes each), the individual cut hardly has enough time to establish itself, and Goodman's tendency to implement long blends only exacerbates the problem. By the time the listener starts to become attuned to Jam City's “Her,” for example, Goodman's already moving onto his own “Uh.” In those moments when changes happen so fast (such as the blink-and-you'll-miss-it transitions through Alex Parkinson & Chris Lorenzo's “What Must I Prove 2 U,” Joy O's “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – TIP!,” and 7 Funkystepz' “Vice Versa”), the mix feels rudderless and in need of a more secure foundation. Perhaps Goodman would have been wiser to whittle the selections down to twenty so that each one could have been allowed to breathe a little longer.

August-September 2013