Annie's DJ-Kicks and Richie Hawtin's DE9: Transitions represent the extremes of DJ mixes on CD. Annie is a Norwegian pop star/diva who's amassed several crowd-pleasing records from many eras and placed them in a relatively pleasing order with scant regard for seamless segues. Hawtin is a globetrotting Canadian techno savant who's elevated DJing to a high art/science, with help from cutting-edge technology. His new disc contains hundreds of samples, loops, and tracks, including rare and unreleased material culled from underground techno's upper crust.
Annie admits in the press notes, "Technically, I suck. For me, the most important thing is to build it up and make it a good evening." (She means her mix, not your dicks, pervs.) DJ-Kicks launches with Toy's cutesy EZ-listening reggae, then moves into La Bionda's bubblegum electro ditty, which slides nicely into an Alan Vega electro-rockabilly toss-off. The easygoing vibe is abruptly broken by Junior Senior's sassy dance-rock remix of Le Tigre's "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo," which tenses things up, but retains zee crucial fun quotient guiding Annie's selection process. For example, check the disc's best transition: Zongamin's "Bongo Song" into Liquid Liquid's "Flextone," in which both tracks' zany percussion miraculously mesh and complement each other.
Alan Braxe and Fred Falke's remix of Death from Above 1979's "Black History Month" brings some heavy guitar crunch, but then a burrowing minimal-techno steez takes over for a bit (Motiivi: Tuntematon, Brundtland & Therson). However, we're back to gigglesville with Bumblebee Unlimited's chipmunk-voiced orchestral disco. Annie also slips in two of her own vibrantly frothy tunes ("Wedding," "Gimme Your Money," the latter awkwardly segued into Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy"). The disc peaks with ESG's propulsively funky "My Love for You." Play this at your next party and become wildly popular.
By contrast, Hawtin's DE9 puts techno under a microscope and scrutinizes the molecular wriggling (an accompanying DVD includes a 96-minute, 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound version). Here Hawtin uses Abelton Live and ProTools to eviscerate tracks, then suture them into new configurations.
Despite being assembled from hundreds of sonic particles by elite producers like Ricardo Villalobos, Ø, Carl Craig, DBX, Robert Hood, Underground Resistance, Pantytec, Dimbiman, Stewart Walker, Seattle's Jeff Samuel, and many others, DE9 possesses a cohesiveness that might as well have come from one brain. (DE9's cover—artist/track names superimposed on Hawtin's face—alludes to the creative process.) It's a smoothly running Frankenstein's monster of subliminally percolating and throbbing rhythms. Its digital minutiae coagulate into an obelisk of meticulously contoured beats and tones pointing to a future of fascinating miniaturization, introversion, and efficiency. Hawtin pours much furrow-browed technical complexity into DE9, but the result is a simple pleasure: the eternal joy of perpetual movement. DAVE SEGAL