Beg steal or borrow – actually no, scrub that – I strongly recommend you buy the Henrik Schwarz DJ Kicks mix on K7!, a label that has its moments but is also unreliably patchy from time to time, as is this mix series. But this is, to turn a phrase, fucking fantastic. I like it a lot.
I really am not a huge fan of “mix CDs” I find most of them as dull as the majority of so-called underground plodding house. Nicely put together, full of forgettable tracks, like a passing blur and absolutely indicative of why house – the ordinary stuff that calls itself house – got so boring, so passé in recent years. There are only so many formless, vocal snippet looping 4 on the floor nothings I can take, and god knows I heard enough of them on dance radio in Auckland in recent weeks. Relentlessly drab faceless tracks mixed together with ten other similar tracks do not make good listening for anyone and are perhaps a big part of why the clubs are not so full anymore and why the records are not selling as well.
And then you hear something like this. Something that pulls together all the strands, something that realises that the best DJ is little more than an inspired tour guide, taking you on a trip around his or her head. House music (and despite the plethora – I like that word – of slow tracks herein, make no mistake this is ideologically a house album) was, like punk and every musical explosion, about taking risks. And Henrik, flavour of the year he may be, understands that and wanders from James Brown to Drexciya to Pharaoh Sanders effortlessly and it makes (repeated and inspiring) listening sense.
And there is also the Kings of Techno double. Whilst the Carl Craig tribute to the European electronic heritage is a near perfect track listing, he, again marrs it with silly talking over tracks, although it’s nowhere near as annoying as when he allowed it to wreck his recent-ish Fabric album. I think Carl, sadly has reached a point where no-one is willing to tell him the truth. It’s a shame but this album is more than rescued by the Laurent Garnier paean to Detroit. Just listen to the way he grinds from ADULT’s Don’t Talk into the opening chords of No Fun (yes, The Stooges – this about Detroit and almost every act on here is as punk as it gets), and then slips effortlessly into Jeff Mills. And Alice Coltrane into a majestic live take of Underground Resistance’s Amazon is utterly inspired.