Maceo Plex: DJ-Kicks
!K7 Records

In his contribution to the esteemed DJ Kicks series, American producer Eric Estornel (aka Maceo Plex and Maetrik) draws upon the past as a way to chart the future, with his eighteen-track mix featuring some pieces that are up to twenty years old. Estornel didn't merely sequence cherry-picked tracks, however; instead, he meticulously re-edited many of them by adding new elements, percussive and otherwise (with said re-edits credited to both Maceo Plex and Maetrik). It's a smart move as his additions give the mix a fluidity it might not have had otherwise and make the material, much of it derived from vinyl-only tracks, sound fresh. The end result is very much reflective of the Maceo Plex style: dark, decadent, and underground, and very much emblematic of Crosstown Rebels, which issued the Maceo Plex artist album Life Index in 2011.

The eighty-minute mix immediately springs to attention with a squiggly jam of hot-wired electro-funk called “Spatial Lobe” from Monsters From ID, two Northampton, UK brothers who also released tracks under the Bitstream name. After settling into a dreamier mode for Voice Stealer's incandescent “Evaluation,” the set regains thrust as it moves on to Mathias Schaffhäuser's alluring pop-vocal jam “Nice To Meet You” before getting wild with the punk-funk throwdown “New York Is Alright” by TV Baby. Almost careening out of control, the tune might remind listeners of a certain age of acts like Richard Hell & the Voidoids and James Black & the Contortions, especially when a saxophone squawk barrels into position.

Estornel thereafter pulls the mix back from the brink to solidly ground it within an intense and hard-grooving zone of techno and house cuts. Eric Volta's acid-house fireball “Rez-Shifter” keeps the mix at a fever pitch, while Visnadi's “Racing Tracks” tears into its lockstep groove with breathless ferocity (and even includes some Doppler-styled race car sounds that would more call to mind Autobahn if the bass-throttling groove weren't so hard-charging). Strong material by Move D (“Sandmann”), Zeta Reticula & Freaks (“Creeps”), and Jaydee (“Payback”) keeps the fire stoked during the second half, and some Maceo Plex originals appear, too, among them the jubilant closer “Mind On Fire” and an exclusive track “Galactic Cinema” whose soulful bass chug reinforces the mix's muscular vibe. Estornel himself stated regarding the release, “I think it is the most important mix series so I wanted to make sure it was music that I really loved and [will] want to hear in five or ten years time.” One could easily imagine someone putting the disc on ten years from now and hardly noticing the lapse in time since its formal release.

May 2013