PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

DJ Koze: DJ Koze

Tack on "tastemaker" to Koze's impressive resume.


DJ Koze

DJ Kicks

Label: !K7
US Release Date: 2015-06-15
UK Release Date: 2015-06-15
Amazon
iTunes

Any over-the-top audiophile (as if there was any other type) will tell you that a person’s private playlist is a window into their heart. This probably isn’t the sentiment that the DJ Kicks series is aiming for. Instead, over the last few years, they’ve been snapping up DJs from around the world, asking for mixes from a colorful cast, from unpredictable renaissance man Apparat to Spanish beat genius John Talabot. Hamburg-based techno tinkerer DJ Koze does deliver a grand mix, but it also ushers the listener into some odd private rooms, revealing what goes on in his head, all under the guise of an excellent set.

To get the fundamentals out of the way, Koze’s DJ Kicks is nearly flawless on a technical level. The fade-ins and outs, the sequencing, and the dynamic ebb and flow is spotless. It’s how Koze can trick us into thinking a gangsta rap cut and a freak folk excursion can only be separated by a few songs. On a clinical basis, it’s a deft example for any wannabe DJs.

But that view is a bit robotic and sterile in comparison to a deep dive into Koze’s mind and tastes. Koze is probably best known for his colorful 2013 effort Amygdala, but in the 1990s, Koze was part of German hip-hop group Fischmob and he wears his boom-bap love on his sleeve. That’s not to say his affection is straightforward, with the first proper hip-hop cut here from cult weirdos cLOUDDEAD. cLOUDDEAD (which featured a young Yoni Wolf before he founded label Anti-Con) show up only three songs in with the surreal “Dead Dogs Two”, made even stranger by Boards of Canada’s pastoral remix work. It is rap, sure, but it resides so firmly in cloudcuckooland that it’s a wink toward Koze’s own disregard for labels or logic.

Elsewhere Homeboy Sandman’s lovely “Holiday” shows up, delaying Sandman’s laid back rhymes for the second half, allowing the clattering drums and cherubic choir vocals to guide most of the song. Directly following is an instrumental version of Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s “Shame” off of their brilliant 2014 opus Piñata. Unlike the instrumental version that Madlib released last year, Koze lets BJ the Chicago Kid’s faded, soulful chorus ride, even when Gibbs’ Tupac reincarnated verses are exed out.

Even these cuts point toward the lovely, laidback vibe of DJ Kicks. It feels lounge like in atmosphere, with few songs rising above 110 BPM. Koze doesn’t nod to the ravers, instead he’s culled together something more tranquil and pleasant while combined with late night meditations. The whirring, electronic lullaby of “Come Get It” is the best example, but prime, calming cuts dot DJ Kicks. Koze has a knack for placing just the right, mesmerizing tracks next to each other. The Session Victim’s jumpy “Hyuwee” fades into the nearly seven minute long slow jam “Bring the Sun” and another hypnotizing beat kicks in right after with Marcel Fengler’s “Jaz”.

A passive listen to Koze’s Kicks might just reveal hip-hop love and brilliant talent, but the underlying theme from Koze is simple, but easy to overlook: a genuine love of music. The only Koze original that makes it here is “I Haven’t Been Everywhere, But it’s on My List” and it features an elderly man informing the listener that Koze will be playing “tunes that make him feel over nice”, but it’s not just for Koze but for “me and my whole fucking family too”! That warm, weird humor carries over and seeps into damn near every note of the sound. Dimlite's "Can't Get Used to Those?" closes with a trembling voice intoning “touching music with my fingers / touching sound with my living fingers”. Maybe that’s Koze’s goal, to create a playlist that cements his love to the art. For now add “tastemaker” to Koze’s resume.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.