DJ Kicks


Being an ’80s dance-fetishist seems like hard work. Poring over those Shep Pettibone discographies, the endless Liquid Liquid vs. ESG debates … whew. Not to mention the tireless work of graphic designer/remixer/Output label head Trevor Jackson, whose album as Playgroup (released last year overseas and this year in the states) faithfully mined the halcyon days of the early-’80s underground where hip-hop, electro, punk, dub and minimalism all mishmashed to the tune of one clinical bounce. After all that he has to find time to cobble together the latest in !K7’s DJ Kicks series, digging in his crates for enough music pious to the altar of early ’80s dance-this-genre-fuck-around to fill a whole comp … and make the entire mess unironic enough confuse the hipsteratti.

Up to the challenge, Jax creates a euphoric mix full of skeletal grooves free of any post-Orbital squiggling. “Shouldn’t there be some kind of structure?” some mysterious sample coos upon leading into some wobbly disco-funk courtesy of Bill Laswell’s Material. Harlequin Fours rise up like a sequined phoenix, shouting harmonies over freewheelin’ bongo breaks and gentle electro in 1985’s forgotten club gem “Set It Off.” Impedance’s ridiculous house take on Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” (yeah, I know Gloria Jones did it first, quit yer bitchin’) almost questions Jackson’s sincere love of new wave, but he makes up for it with a swell dub track by Human League, and some classic avant-new-wave by the infamous Flying Lizards. Newcomers like Metro Area and Smith ‘N Hack engage in some funky, jazzy minimalist house (on the appropriately titled “Caught Up” and “To Our Disco Friends,” respectively) while danceable NY post-post-punkers The Rapture rock like-minded four-to-the-floor funk with organic drums and pokey guitars.

This is one of those impartial-retro-cum-geniune documents that’ll make you rethink the legitimacy of that copy of Midnite Vultures you have lying around.


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