Album Review: Moodymann – Dj Kicks


K7’s third in a hat-trick of mixes from three of today’s true dance-floor mavericks chalks up their 51st entry into the DJ Kicks series. Only with someone of the stature of enigmatic Detroiter Moodymann could they possibly follow Actress’ and Koze’s milestones in the series.  

The story of Kenny Dixon Jr has many landmarks, the infamous Redbull lecture, the roller skating jam, selling his motor through his label Mahogany’s website. That’s before we even get to the music. With Moodymann the story and the music go hand in hand. In everything KDJ does he’s a story teller, from his singles, albums to his club sets, combining many narratives to free your mind and make sure your ass follows. With an almost mythical air about him, it is impossible to separate the legend from the music, with all he does engulfed in a mysterious and often disorientating haze. 

Any one who has seen Moodymann on the decks will agree that his narration on DJ Kicks 51 mirrors his clubs sets. Just as in the club, Moodymann teases in one subplot and then shimmies off in another, a timeless Detroit style where the musical intent and the personality of the selector is more important than technical skill. In the club he’ll throw in curveballs, like killing the music, getting on the mic and announcing; “The bar is open for service”, this while being fed champagne by his female entourage. 

Separated from this spectacle he invites himself into your own home with his second ever mix CD, following the immaculate Moodymann Collection from 2006. The music he brings is laid bare. What is evoked is an alluring collage of moods, grooves and mysteries to explore rather than be walked through. Where you end up with the plot is circumspect, it’s more about what you found on the way. 

Taking us through a hazy first half an hour he lays down lazy hip hop and smoke shrouded electronics, before breaking into a more lively second half with Fort Knox Five feat. Mustafa Akbar – Uptown Tricks (Rodney Hunter Remix). The inclusion of Daniel Bortz and Noir & Haze – Around (Solomun Vox) will upset the hardcore fans but what story is complete without its villains? How better to cast the sweet soulful efforts of Big Muff or the obtuse rhythms of Marcelus Pittmann than next to straight-edge euro house that owes so much to Kenny Dixon JR and his contemporaries. More importantly who would have the balls to do that? 

The mix is not as technically slick as modern mixing technology could allow it to be but in the hands of Moodymann, the game is laying the soul of a track bare by playing it properly and allowing it to evoke its own mood and memories. This is the complete opposite of his predecessor Koze in the Kicks series, who twisted, edited and remixed almost every track to fit his singular vision. In programming the mix KDJ has allowed each track to fully breathe, with elements of the proceeding track enhancing those in the next. The mixing does have its moments though, conjuring the beautiful Come Home by Little Dragon from the murky atmosphere of Julien Dyne feat. Mara TK’s Stained Glass Fresh Frozen. 

To put it bluntly, the heads are probably not going to like this. Its hardly slick or singular and the composite tracks are more unearthed gems than must-have forgotten classics. There are no airs and graces and Moodymann takes a view from the street, guided by his own enigma, a presence. This leaves the mix an open book, not one that will go dog eared through use but one that will keep it’s shape and will certainly reward re explorations in later chapters of life.