DJ-Kicks Series – Daniel Avery (Review)

“Witnessing a DJ create an atmosphere in a room from the ground up takes patience and effort from everyone present but when the pivotal moments hit, your watch stops ticking.” This explains Daniel Avery’s thought process behind his entry into the venerable DJ-Kicks series. It’s over an hour of moody, rain-drenched techno, without many surprises or sudden left turns. Not to say that this is in any way dull – hypnotically repetitive songs blend together like fragments of a dream, with soundscapes lightly fizzing over each other and bleepy bass prodding below, slowly adding to the tension as it swells and dissipates, with the focus being on texture and atmosphere over melody. It’s a mix as well suited for meditation as it is the dance floor.

In Aeternam Vale start things off with a slow-burner ambient track that’s like an ominous mist gliding in over distant mountains. It’s a fitting intro, and sets the tone for the rest of the mix. Then the beat creeps in with Rroses remix of Avery’s ‘Sensation,’ a swash of vertiginous textures earthed to the dingiest dance floor by a thudding kick drum. It isn’t as bold or in your face as the propulsive acid of his breakout album Drone Logic, (though there are moments that hark back to it – with Avery’s new exclusive ‘A Mechanical Sky’ trawling familiar territory) instead allowing the tension to slowly simmer over time.

However, it is exactly this restraint that sets the mix apart. Everything is given plenty of space, and not only that, but time as well. Quite a few of the tracks sit around the ten minute mark – an uncommon approach compared to many other techno DJs. It’s hard to tell where one track begins and another ends, and once you’re completely absorbed in its oneiric atmosphere, your watch really does stop ticking – after a while, you don’t know if you’ve been listening to a track for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, especially since the tracks don’t really go anywhere, but rather unfurl in place. It also helps that the way the tracks are mixed together is smoother than a freshly polished bowling ball.

It may be a little too subdued for some, particularly for those used to the plucky bite of some of Avery’s more melodic work. But as a showcase for hypnagogic, cinematic techno, it does a wonderful job, and is an excellent entry into the DJ-Kicks series.

DJ-Kicks is available now via !K7