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Kode 9: DJ Kicks review

The !K7 Records’ DJ KiCKS compilation series is marking its 15th anniversary this year. In that time the likes of James Holden, Four Tet, Hot Chip, Booka Shade, Juan Maclean and more have contributed a kick or two. But the time is now. And that time is Kode 9’s. The Hyperdub label boss has pioneered well…what has he pioneered?! This crazy blend of dubstep, grime, UK funky, broken beat and futuristic whatever-you-want-to-call-it, which has come to define a whole generation of music lovers. This consistently forward-thinking, razor sharp vision is brought to the fore in this mix which, he himself describes as “a snapshot of my DJ sets at the first half of 2010”.

Encompassing a broad range of styles and sound bites from across the sonic spectrum, the compilation kicks (no pun intended!) off with Lone- ‘Once In A While’, slowly moving through the newer wave of artists, as represented by Cooly G (with the as-yet unreleased ‘Phat Si’), Ikonika (the latest signing to the Hyperdub crew), Rinse FM’s Scratch DVA and Hessle Audio’s Ramadanman. Repping the old school are such notables as seminal dubstep trio, Digital Mystiz with ‘Mountain Dread March’, the legendary grimester, Terror Danjah, and UKG-turned-R&B/pop producer, Sticky.

Kode 9’s mix moves smoothly through some darker, heavier moments, interspersed with rhythmic synth-led sunshine-soaked riddims to some futuristic, bleepy moments such as ‘Spiralz’ by Zomby and dancehall flavours (see Sticky’s ‘Look Pon Me’). A 40 second interlude roughly two thirds of the way through acts a dividing marker, and the remaining part of the mix is dominated by a more brooding, bass-orientated vibe, full of the some of the UK’s finest – DMZ – ‘2 Much Chat’, Terror Danjah – ‘Stiff’ and Kode 9 vs LD – ‘Bad’ – before finishing with The Bug’s dark, growling ‘Run’. It’s not just a superb and evocative snapshot of where Kode 9 is at in 2010, it’s a panoramic of the contemporary musical landscape.

Review by Belinda Rowse