PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Carl Cox: Mixed Live: 2nd Session, Area2 Detroit

Matt Cibula

Carl Cox

Mixed Live: 2nd Session, Area2 Detroit

Label: Moonshine
US Release Date: 2002-11-02
UK Release Date: Available as import

My mix tapes are amazing. So are yours, I bet -- all that time spent in trying to figure out the crucial answer to "What should I follow this long-ass Nick Cave depresso tune with, Pizzicato Five or 'Rubberband Man'?" But no one pays us for our mix tapes, do they? No, because we're not Big Internationally Famous DJs. The argument for buying mix CDs by BIFDJs goes like this: they have better taste than we do (or at least they have better access to newer cooler records) and they have better mixing equipment than we do and we can just put this disc on and it'll be just like we're in one of the clubs that those BIFDJs play in.

Large genial Mancunian Carl Cox is one of those BIFDJs, but he's earned his title the hard way: he's been deejaying since forever (about twice the lifetime of most of his dancers), and he actually loves to perform live. He inspired Moonshine Records' whole "Mixed Live" series, which began with a Cox Chicago set a few years ago, and now he's back; this disc contains a 73-minute live techno dance set from Moby's Area2 tour in Detroit last summer. That's right, live: real dancers, real DJ Carl Cox exhortations to the crowd to make some noise and their actual noise, the whole thing.

It's a hell of a performance. We have to judge it like that, because that's how it's presented (in case you ever forget, Cox will pop up again with "Let's hear it Detroit!" and people will yell back at him), and it's skillful all the way. Cox's transitions are perfect and inevitable like art, like gravity, like Halle Berry in a Bond film; he knows how to hook things up together and make them work like his name was Conjunction Junction. The rich creamy transition between Tomaz and Filterheads' "Lazy People" and "I'll Shove" by Colt Systems is amazing, wonderful, etc., as are all the other segues here.

Cox is not a turntablist, and isn't trying to scratch or juggle or break weird edgy new ground on this disc, but he does know what to do as a DJ. Since many of these tracks have similar rhythmic underpinnings (a.k.a. boom boom boom boom repeat), he has to find interesting new ways to break things up. There is no real difference between some of these tracks, so Cox creates a difference by manipulating the fader to create a pseudo-breakdown on one of them and then moving from the other into a slightly different style of music. And the whole thing is paced so that people can get a break every five tracks or so. Cox's handling of this on "Step Back (Smith and Selway Remix)" by SLAM is masterful; he takes full advantage of the lengthy breakdown, and then the tension commences again, and everything is ratcheted up a notch when he calls out "Come on Detroit I cahn't heah you!" during the slow build back to the beat. By the time it comes back in, it feels like heaven.

I say all this even though this really isn't very much my style of dance music. Hard house is unambitious stuff, and the whole four-beat pounding thing can really grate on a fella after a while. But you don't really notice anything amiss during the less interesting pieces, and when a true scorcher comes in, like Bryan Zentz's "Joplin" (a very nice invasion of Earth by robots) or the "unknown" piece that is track 5 (whoever the hell thought that acoustic hippie folk should be turned into techno music gets my vote), it sounds all the better.

My two favorite tracks here are actually Cox originals. "Want a Life" exploits its lockstep sampledelica in a way that recalls both the Human League and Chicago industrial house, and "Dirty Bass" (with Christian Smith) is a mad percussion bustup with swarms of synths and some of the most ominous chord changes I've ever heard in this genre. (Actually, there aren't a lot of chords in this genre at all, so it's even more impressive.) I really wish Cox would arse himself to do more original records, because he's got some flavorful ideas that aren't going to do much sitting on his DAT while he goes around spinning vastly inferior stuff.

All in all, a really well done live set that I probably won't listen to very much again. I appreciate it and all, but I don't get the urge to throw it on for fun or for dancing. Maybe that's because it's a live performance, a wonderful party I wasn't invited to, or maybe it's just because I already have several Moonshine releases with the same MO and the same BPM. Or maybe I'm just a loser. But I've learned a lot from this record about pacing and structure in live dance music, and I still think it's a hell of a disc.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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