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DJ Koze Reincarnations Review

Compilation. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

It's an irresistible party track.

Chris Power 2009

Beginning his career as the DJ for German hip-hop crew Fischmob in the mid-1990s, Hamburg's DJ Koze (real name Stefan Kozalla) gravitated towards dance music to escape the stagnancy he perceived to be infecting hip-hop. His work as both a DJ and producer takes pains to avoid familiarity and conservatism. This approach has resulted in wildly eclectic DJ sets, the tongue-in-cheek R 'n' B of his International Pony side-project, abstract electronica made as Adolf Noise, and a significant body of house and techno originals and remixes as DJ Koze.

It's the latter part of Koze's oeuvre to which Reincarnations is dedicated. The album collects 14 remixes, from the euphoric techno of his 2001 remake of Malaria's 1980's art-pop (Kaltes Klares Wasser) to a previously unreleased mix of Ben Watt's Guinea Pig (2008). The album title is fitting given the extent to which Koze's remixes tend to differ from the source material. An extreme case of this is the Pink Moon remix of Mango Cookie (2008), which actually combines two Sascha Funke tracks – Mango and A Fortune Cookie Symphony – to create an expansive three-part deep house journey; the menacingly throbbing bass of the central section finally dispersing into oddly melodic electronic squiggles and grey-sky synths.

The mix of Lawrence's Rabbit Tube (from 2007) provides the album's most straightforward dancefloor track, toughening the kosmische airiness of the original into a muscular tech-house workout. But the most rewarding aspect of Reincarnations lies in its offering consistency only with regard to quality. Changes in style are extreme, from the sun-dappled folktronica of Wechsel Garland's Swim to a compelling deconstruction of Nôze's Danse Avec Moi into vocal lines and horn samples that seem to be bumping into each other while taking a break from appearing on other tracks.

On his remix of Matias Aguayo's genre-baiting Minimal Koze replaces the original's backing with a filtered disco pastiche. It's an irresistible party track, but also a natural fit with Koze's concerns. The danger any creative style faces of sliding from innovation into stagnation lies at the heart of his artistic project, and his unconventional constructions stand as wonderful attempts to avoid it.

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