Kode9, DJ-Kicks

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Steve Goodman, best known within dance music as Kode9, is in some ways among the most daunting figures in current electronic music. Not only is he the owner of the much-lauded Hyperdub record label and a well-respected artist in his own right, he’s also an insightful mediator on the subject of music. With a Ph.D. in philosophy to back it up, he recently published the book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear which explores the ways in which music and sound can be used to manipulate emotion and action. His studies also play into his role as a DJ where he can pick and choose what sort of reaction he wants to elicit from an audience. Goodman’s DJ Kicks encapsulates his selecting abilities while surveying what he deems bass music’s most affecting tracks from recent times.

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The playful opening of Lone’s “Once In A While” belies the sinewy route Kode9 embarks upon during the next hour, followed closed by the house-influenced tune of ping-ponging melodies and bass lines of Aardvark’s “Revo.” Together with Kode9’s own “Blood Orange” and “You Don’t Wash (Dub),” these tracks provide the full weight of being in a sub-filled club without having to leave your flat. The acoustic nature of their drums are a signature of Goodman’s selections and backing up his sonic thesis where percussion can be intimidating with it hits with this much force and clarity. It’s not until Ill Blu’s joyful keys come in with “Bellion” that the set backs off it’s initial menacing aura in favor of a more playful vibe. Ikonika’s bouncy “Heston” blends into the bubbling bass of Scratch DVA’s “Jelly Roll” and guttural disco of Mr Mageeka’s “Different Lekstrix.” This blend gives way to the “roots” portion of the mix with “Move Down Low” by Grievous Angel sliding effortlessly into the bombastic and harried vocals of Natalie Storm on Sticky’s “Look Pon Me.” After moving through riddim anthems from Mujava, Dva, and Aardvarck, Kode9 starts the transition into the grime- and dubstep-heavy second half of DJ Kicks with a drop in tempo and mood. Morgan Zarate’s languid “M.A.B” (featuring Sarah Ann Webb), Rozzie Daime’s “Dirty Illusions,” and Zomby’s “Spiralz” provide a slow-burning interlude of R&B influences.

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Kode9 uses his own minimal synth experiment “It” to bring the set to a hesitant pause and slow re-entry with J*DaVey’s “Mr. Mister.” The climax begins in earnest with a heady mix of Digital Mystikz (“2 Much Chat”) and Terror Danjah (“Stiff”), two bass-heavy assaults that work as a countdown to the blow off. Classic DMZ stomper “Mountain Dread March” makes an appearance before dissolving into Zomby’s trippy Zomby tune “Godzilla.” This churning stew of spacious and thundering beats prove only a runway for Addison Groove’s madcap “Footcrab,” a track so ridiculous it brings a smile to the most discerning listener when scuttles through the PA. Terror Danjah returns to herald the impending finale, with his high-energy and intricate drum workout “Bruzin (VIP)” which sounds even crazier as the launching pad for The Bug’s dark and brooding “Run,” which turns the tables on Terror Danjah’s giggling fun. As the sparse drum kicks and the guttural bass rumbles the CD to a close, the mental wreckage of trying to keep pace with Kode9’s technical skills and manic selections becomes apparent and his dance floor-as-warzone mentality makes so much more sense.

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» Kode9, DJ-Kicks best house music  on August 4, 2010 at 1:06 AM

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