Maya Jane Coles: DJ-Kicks
There's definitely some small amount of irony in having Maya Jane Coles helm a DJ-Kicks mix. By her own admission, the now-twenty-four-year-old East Londoner hated house music when she first started banging out hip-hop tunes in her bedroom at the age of fifteen—not that anyone would ever have suspected as much after listening to this choice installment in the esteemed DJ-Kicks series. To be precise, the object of her derision was the cheesy vocal side of house, not the forward-thinking kind of underground house and techno that she discovered at seventeen and is featured on her first commercially available DJ mix.
Twenty-two tracks rich and featuring two exclusives by Coles herself (one under the Nocturnal Sunshine name), the mix is diverse, with Coles drawing from a wide range of musics, not just techno and house but soul, funk, acid, garage, and dubstep, too. That open-mindedness is apparent from the get-go in having Deft's “Loqux & Past,” its warm vocal parts nicely augmented by atmospheres as much rooted in garage as deep house, as the opener. That deep house vibe carries over into Chasing Kurt's vocal cut “Money” before the steely throb of Bozzwell's “In My Cocoon” gives the mix a bit of bass science flavour.
Strong on melodic and rhythm grounds, the mix moves from one memorable moment to the next and, with no track exceeding five minutes, never gets bogged down in any one place for too long. Coles' own “Not Listening” adds three floor-filling minutes of tribal garage to the set, while her Nocturnal Sunshine cut “Meant To Be” adds a stealthy slice of soulful two-step. Elsewhere, a smattering of Afrobeat call-and-response enlivens the galloping strut of Larse's “Karoo,” a Muteoscillator Fairy Tall remix brings the funk to Roberto Bardini's wiry “Hate Me” (a move pushed to a dizzying degree in Tripmastaz's rollicking “Guess Who”), and Last Magpie's “No More Stories” serves up an amped-up riff on Burial.
The mix ends with cuts by Marcel Dettmann (“Translation Two”) and Claro Intelecto (“Hunter's Rocket To The Sky”), but Coles' state-of-the-art mix isn't about names but rather sounds. Fresh it is, and, as contributions from Zoe Zoe (“Church”) and Gerry Read (“Roomland”) attest, it also works well as a capsule portrait of the underground club scene circa 2012. She plans to follow the release with an artist album, which, by her own description, “has moved completely away from house music” and features vocals on about 90% of the tracks. It should definitely be worth checking out, if the mix is any indication.