Rupert Parkes, better known as former drum ‘n’ bass guru turned bass heavy maestro Photek, is the first in line to take on the ongoing DJ Kicks mix series in 2012. Whilst some will have come across him more recently as one of the contributors to the ‘Tron Legacy: Reconfigured’ album, this release sees him add four exclusive tracks of his own whilst mixing together a whole slew of other collaborator’s efforts into an entertaining if slightly forgettable collection.
Credit to Parkes for his selections, on the whole the album works with more hits than misses, the strongest of which come from Photek himself. The low-end beast that is ‘Azymuth’ is a fine way to start proceedings, the song’s slowed down dub beats are a genuine treat that build into a dramatic crescendo of woofer-destroying proportions. If you are to believe the pre-launch press material floating about, the aim of the album was to create an introspective piece of work that was more about the mood after leaving the club rather than being in it, and whilst this can hardly be described as chill-out, this is certainly an appropriate soundtrack to a scuzzy late night out.
Flirting in the grey area between bass music and house, this DJ-Kicks compilation comes to life on Photek’s ‘M25FM’ and ‘No Agenda’ both of which reflect the dark/nocturnal nature of the album with its heavy reliance on synth strings and unflinching bass lines. At its best this is an effective companion to Moby’s 2011 effort Hotel - itself an ode to chronic sleeplessness and insomnia. Though like the bald one himself, this album is subject to the occasional slip in quality. The faceless house of Kromestar’s ‘In 2 Minds’ and DLX’s ‘Modern Man’ add nothing to the mix, highlighting the difference in quality and character that the rest of the album serves up.
Things pick up neatly by the time DJG’s ‘Here Come the Dark Lights’ swings around, its swirling synths menacingly offset by the breakdowns of the throbbing ‘Bare’ that quickly follows. Album highlight goes to the collaboration between Photek and Kuru, whose track ‘Fountainhead’ covers the satisfyingly rich grey area between up-tempo electronica and bass-laden house music - just make sure you turn the bass up and pray your neighbours like this sort of thing.
Lonely and desolate at times, the album would benefit from being reigned in slightly - amongst the 19 tracks is a brilliant 12 or 13 songs that, despite the subject matter, deserve to see the light of day.