Could there be a better icon for the current state of future-leaning dance music than Hotflush label head Paul Rose? The British-born Berliner neatly inhabits the now-crumbling borders between dance music's disparate genres. His past couple of releases, under the monikers Scuba and SCB, have explored a vast territory of music that includes such hybrid singles as "Adrenaline" (recently championed by Sasha) and "Loss." Yet, while he's now known for his crossover appeal, he's spent a better part of the '00s releasing dubstep and honing the edges of his rhythmic prowess. Considering his wide-ranging interests, it's unsurprising that Rose has turned in such a varied document with his entry for K7!'s DJ Kicks series.
A relentless beast of a mix, Scuba's DJ Kicks moves through a 32-song playlist that neatly balances itself with a blend of abrasive tones, complex rhythms, and straightforward dance music. It all starts with a flash from the depths; Sigha's beatless and alien "HF029B2" ominously gives way to the harsh, percussive drive of Surgeon's "The Power of Doubt." Right away, Rose establishes a layered mixing style that leaves no room for air, as tracks blend in and out of the mix almost every minute. It's a style vaguely reminiscent of Ramadanman's Fabriclive 56 mix, with breathing room sacrificed for perpetual motion.
This direct drive plays to Rose's favor when he uses long, percussive chapters to build into an eventual release. Probably the best example of this is the three-song passage that flows from the lurching dubstep of Beaumont's "CPX11" to the grounded rhythmic storm of Function vs. Jerome Sydenham's "Two_Ninety_One" and finally into the sweet vocal garage of Braille's "Breakup." It's an effective blend and one of the few moments on the mix that feels truly dynamic. This three-song segment also marks a shift in style toward the more straightforward second half of the mix, which delves into sounds closer to those he's been exploring more recently in his own production. Highlights include selections from Detroit oddball Recloose, Ostgut Ton's Marcel Dettmann, and Mr. Beatnick. As is the case with previous DJ-Kicks, Scuba's entry features plenty of exclusive material. All six exclusives are excellent works in their own right, but highlights come in the form of Boddika's electro-funk-tinged "Acid Battery," Scuba's deep, house-esque "M.A.R.S," and the aforementioned "CPX11."
However, despite the fact that it's an incredibly strong showing, the mix does have its faults. Rose's DJ style leaves little room for dynamics or any form of narrative flow. Moving along at an almost-constant 128-130 bpm, the siege of rhythm grows a little tiring. So too do the completely seamless (and mostly similar) blends, which grow repetitive after the initial powermix novelty wears off. However, in terms of song choice, and as an exercise in breaking boundaries, Scuba's DJ Kicks stands as a solid effort on par with the good work he's done with his recent productions.