Coming to expect some of the grooviest innovation from a DJ-Kicks album has become second nature to me. Traversing the chronology of the series in reverse, I cannot deny that even the most contemporary DJ-K bombshells continue to rival the quality of those pioneering installments by Kruder & Dorfmeister, Kid Loco, Thievery Corporation, Nightmares On Wax, et al. Scuba's latest contribution verifies the proposed notion that the scope of imagination surrounding a great EDM mix has been expanding exponentially... slowly dilating in order to mirror the direction of today's multi-faceted dance scenes. Scuba's DJ:Kicks weaves together a dark and breathtaking experience of soothing and, at once, menacing soundwave cruelty; he appears to create before your very ears an otherwise unimaginable fusion of dubstep, techno and deep house.
Eclectic? Oh, hell yes. And if history's any indicator, eclecticism is just what the parched crowd thirsts for from Scuba. With the swing of a jazz musician, Scuba's DJ:Kicks delivers its inception as though it were entirely improvised - guided, perhaps, by the comforting hand of mild psychedelia. "Swift-cut," "improvisational," "free-form" - How else does one mix thirty-two sublime tracks into seventy-six minutes and have it sound as euphonious as "Kind Of Blue"? Make no mistake, this is one gnarly album.
Frenetic introductory tracks by the likes of Surgeon and dBridge give way to funk-infused dubstep novelties such as Roska's "Leapfrog." Scuba makes sensible use of thickly industrial techno in order to (temporarily) stabilize the twirling top that we have already come to find ourselves clinging to in a frenzied euphoria as tracks swiftly ebb into one another, rushing out to open oceans in a tangled conglomerate of aural fantasia before congealing again and rushing back with even nastier, dirtier low-frequency oscillations ("Everybody In The Place," anyone?). Scuba's "twirling top" will always recede back into pandemonium from tranquility - But who are we to mind it??
Of noteworthiness is Scuba's astute selection of tracks for this record. Compelling, intricate dubstep coupled with lush deep house and raging techno provide the backbone for this album's definitive class; so, too, does the music work in tandem with the mixing to lure us more deeply into this raw and novel talent. Noteworthy tracks literally pepper the list like buckshot shrapnel, fanning out in all creative directions. These include "Let Me In," "Shackled," "Streetwalk," "Acid Battery," "Tecumseh," "Lost Highway (Incyde Remix)," as well as two of Scuba's productions - "M.A.R.S." (Hopelessly unique percussion) and "Adrenalin" - A haunting track used by Sasha to close out his own MixMag DJ set entitled "Never Say Never." Scuba's knack for selecting the most appropriate 8-64 transitional measures of a track affords him the unique opportunity to quickly and effortlessly mesh between three entirely different genres of electronic music with the speed, stealth and precision of a gazelle. After about thirty listens, I can still pop this in the car, through the headset - Even play out some of the tracks myself, and continue to discover something I had not picked up on until that point. I feel so utterly refreshed to be so enthused about a mix album again.
Though Scuba may be a relative newcomer to the territory of mix/compilation CDs, he has decidedly established "terra firma" with this incredible album with maximal replay value. I eagerly anticipate future releases of his (both in production and mixing). Submerge yourself in these sounds; Scuba will keep you moving until the closing curtains.
~ James Woodruff