Compilations / Mixes
Not surprisingly, Photek's distinctive personality seeps into almost every pore of Rupert Parkes's DJ-Kicks mix; no one, in other words, will come away from it thinking it's a generic set that any number of producers might have created. Part of the reason for that is, of course, because the Photek name is attached to six of the nineteen tracks included, but his presence also surreptitiously works its way into the mix in the other tracks, in large measure because they accord so naturally with his own sensibility. It's not hard to hear how the lithe design and fleet beat flow of Dustmite & Kuru's “Bare,” for instance, draws a connecting line to Parkes's own Photek productions. Generally speaking, he opts for a well-integrated thematic design instead of merely hauling out a collection of current dancefloor favourites by big-name producers. As much of a headphones listen as a theoretical club set, the late-night result is something considerably more timeless than the kind of standard paint-by-numbers mix issued all too regularly.
Though a distant echo of drum'n'bass does occasionally surface, Parkes' DJ-Kicks outing finds him continuing to sever ties to the genre with which he's sometimes been associated (even if by doing so somewhat of an injustice has been done to a producer whose best work has transcended such easy categorizing). There's a pronounced emphasis on electro-funk of the slinky (Kromestar's “In 2 Minds”), robotic (Daze Maxim's “Tomorrow Universe”), and downtempo variety (DLX's “Modern Man”), and there's no shortage of blaze, as the relentless heaviosity of DJG's throbbing “Here Come The Dark Lights” reveals. Parkes also isn't afraid to go deep into the vaults, as the inclusion of Baby Ford's 1994 classic “Dead Eye” makes clear, and smatterings of acid seep into the rising storm of the Photek & Pinch collab “M25FM.” There's also heady, vocal-based soul (DJG's “Say Something” and Guy J & Miriam Vaga's “No Under But You”), and in that regard it's noteworthy that Sepalcure's “Taking You Back” appears as it's perhaps most representative of the disc's fresh electro-soul feel. It's also telling that“Fountainhead,” a Photek and Kuru collaboration exclusive to this DJ-Kicks mix, is so similar in spirit to the Sepalcure tune.
Though “Levitation” is undeniably powerful in the thrust of its crisp beat pattern, none of the Photek originals are game-changers at the level of early classics such as “The Hidden Camera,” “The Seven Samurai,” or “Rings Around Saturn.” That is an admittedly high bar to reach, however, and the mix is designed to be experienced as a totality, not isolated bits. If anything, though the influence of dubstep emerges too, the wide-ranging mix makes it hard to stylistically pin down the 2012 Photek model, and that's presumably something that would suit Parkes just fine.