The DJ-Kicks series is on a bit of a roll lately, what with this latest installment following fast on the heels of solid outings from Photek and Maya Jane Coles. Just as their mixes differ markedly from each other, so too does Digitalism's distance itself from both. It's very much a summertime mix in spirit and mood—boisterous and amped-up, in other words—and no one can accuse the German producers Jens Moelle and Ismail Tüfekçi of giving the project a half-assed treatment: the six Digitalism cuts featured in the twenty-two-track mix are all exclusives, and they've included an edit of Gai Barone's “Alicudi” and a remix of The Rapture's “Sail Away,” too. It's interesting how things happen: a dozen years ago, Moelle and Tüfekçi were Hamburg record store employees selling other artists' DJ-Kicks releases to customers, and here they are today serving up their own seventy-eight-minute ride.
Anything but polite, Digitalism's cocksure set is full of bluster and attitude, and definitely designed to keep a crowd on its feet. That the mix will be a raucous affair is clear from the outset when a barrage of mangled sound introduces Axel Le Baron & Kurbatov's “Menace,” though it thankfully does settle into a straight-up groove a minute into the tune; the wailing guitar solo dropped into its middle also says much about the wild trip to come. Though it includes nods to house (TWR72's driving “Summer”) and techno, the mix extends liberally beyond the strict confines of dance music to include vocal-based power pop (Alex Gopher's “Brain Leech,” with its New Order-powered bass lines), disco-punk (Grauzone's “Raum”), and squiggly electro-funk (Hey Today!'s “83”). That guitars and vocals are as prominent as synthesizers speaks volumes about the character of the mix.Digitalism offers its own brand of feverish electro-clash on “Falling,” “A New Drug,” and “So Totally Good” and considerably elevates the impact of the mix through their original contributions to it. Landing halfway through, the soaring electro-stomp of WhoMadeWho's “The Sun” fits Digitalism's mix like a glove, as does Vitalic's “Second Lives.” There are brain-addlers aplenty—consider Kolsch's “Loreley,” what with its cartwheeling synthesizer figures, and Housemeister's “Sommer” as proof—, and the set is so relentlessly uptempo that the piano ballad opening of The Rapture's “Sail Away” registers as a bit of a shock, though the moment passes quickly once Digitalism's supercharged, disco-stomp remix treatment kicks in. The outfit's entry in the DJ-Kicks sweepstakes clearly won't win any prizes for subtlety, but what it lacks in that regard it more than makes up for in energy and passion.