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Erlend Øye: DJ-Kicks

Album: DJ-Kicks
Label: K7

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The crashing wave of nu-electro fetishism has been conflicted almost from the beginning, when mindful artists re-reading certain '80s strains were left to stare down an accompanying scene that prioritized snarky fashion and noxious posturing over anything resembling actual musical drive. Especially in New York, where the ringleaders of the "electroclash" camp couldn't be more off-putting, the scene has always made winks and nods a higher priority than vision. A scene-making beneficiary and victim of his smash cover of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses At Night," Montreal DJ Tiga knows his way around a sidelong leer, but his entry into the DJ-Kicks mix series also focuses on the promise lurking at nu-electro's frayed edges. Lacing dated synth riffs and drum-machine cracks into a crisp, wrinkled tech-house fabric, Tiga lays out a startling mission statement that proves equal parts party-starter and headphone-rocker. Jolly Music's "Radio Jolly (Adult Remix)" opens the disc with a Chicago-house homage swathed in acid licks and motorik electro pulse, which then slithers into a rangy mix of backward-looking reminders and forward-thinking bids. Tiga shows his mixing chops early, when he not only keeps his footing, but also sticks an ace landing on the saxophone solo coursing through Chromeo's "You're So Gangsta (Playgroup Instrumental)." Filtered and shoved to the top of the mix, the ever-dubious horn blows against disaffected chanteuse vocals and gleaming electro textures in ways it probably shouldn't. But Tiga keeps a sure watch over everything from homespun handclap funk (the DFA remix of Le Tigre's "Deceptacon") to dubby disco (Antonelli Electr's "Dubby Disco") to stylized vocal synth-pop (Tiga + Zyntherius' "Dying In Beauty"), all strung together in ways that highlight the importance of hearing dance music in proper mixed form. Tiga's selection fits squarely into an electro movement well-acquainted with surface pleasure, but DJ-Kicks sounds a call for a trend too often consumed with its trendiness to look deeper.