Twenty years ago, DJ mixes were often cynically marketed as a way to ‘experience the club’; hear music that was only meant to be mixed, mixed; and in some cases only easily obtainable through that mix. Post Napster, post-shuffle, post-Soundcloud, post-Playlist, and now deeply into a period where most music consumption is via algorithmically selected streaming services, the DJ mix is in an awkward spot. Is it there to showcase curatorial prowess? Optimo’s mixes are a long standing benchmark in that regard. Is it to showcase technical skills? See all manner of turntablist mixes. Is it to create entirely new compositions – as in the case of Osymyso’s Intro-Introspection or Coldcut’s legendary Journeys by DJ? Or are most a cynical/savvy ‘brand’ play – the ‘mixtape as release’ model?
Divided loosely into 5 sections, Kode9 working Durban’s gqom sounds and global bass at the begininning then returning with a footwork selection, after Burial’s foray into some 90s acid techno on Rabbit City and Luke Slater’s crunching Djax-Up-Beats pseudonym Clementine, even a tiny snip of Rising High’s Friends Family & Lovers and some jungle classics, before ending with some newer Hyperdub signings. But its not really about the individual tracks – its how they fit together, or don’t. Kode9’s technical mixing skills seamlessly blend sounds and styles across several continents and two decades of Simon Reynolds’ ‘hardcore continuum’. Burial’s leftfield and frequently rough cut track insertions combined with ambient fx focus on the seams themselves – that together make a strange but often beguiling 75 minute listen. Where on other mixes this would be an annoyance, it provides a valuable aesthetic contrast. Fabric’s mixes are never available as unmixed digital versions (although there is a 28 track, 5LP unmixed version) – no doubt due to licensing issues – and in this case, this makes sense. In so doing the mix clearly articulates the aesthetics and curatorial directions of Hyperdub’s near 15 years – along with some of its influences and precursors.