Album Review: DJ Kicks - various mixed by the Juan Maclean

BlackPlastic was going to start this review with a preamble about the diminished relevance of the DJ mix CD and the evolution of dance music as a consumable medium. But instead we shall simply say: the mix CD is fucked, but the Juan Maclean apparently couldn't care less.

In approaching his outing in the DJ Kicks series good old John Maclean has kept things simple: this is a straight forward set mixed on vinyl with no digital effects and it is something of a revelation.

The DFA's strength as a record label stems from it's non-myopic view of music. Nothing is too far away to be considered ripe for re-imagining or re-contextualisation. The Juan Maclean's artist albums embody that sense of natural curiosity and this mix album, despite featuring largely recent tracks, wears its heart on it's sleeve. This is house music and it is as simple as that.

It is therefore a testament to Maclean's mixing and sequencing skills that this mix just feels so fault free and timeless. And there are some excellent moments. Ian Breno's Dub of The Juan Maclean's hit 'Happy House' (here 'Feliz Casa') melts into Still Going's fantastic 'Spaghetti Circus'. Ao's 'Take Me' sidles up to Rick Williams' 'Get On Up!!' like there isn't twenty-odd years between them and Jeeday's 'Like A Child' is both haunting and driving at once.

The closing quarter only elevates things further - from Danny Howell's 'Laid Out' through Shit Robot's 'Simple Things (Work It Out)', the token new Juan Maclean cut 'Feel So Good' and a final visit to 'Get On Up!!' before closing on the so-laid-back-it's-stopped-breathing Frankel's Rhodes Workout version of 'Happy House'. This is house music for now, the summer, forever. Intelligent, beautiful and funky.

BP x

DJ Kicks - The Juan Maclean is out now on !K7, available from on CD, LP and MP3.