The enormity of the third chapter in Tresor’s Kern series was evident long before the mix reached anyone’s ears. A little bit of reading around the release gave you a sense of the kind of thought and consideration that had been poured into it. Scanning the 36-strong tracklisting gave an inkling, but it was the more the words of its composer that brought things into focus: TJ Hertz (better known as Objekt) spoke of it in grand terms, the result of a six-month process that sounded more like the crafting of a sculpture than the cobbling together of the average DJ mix.
It made sense. Hertz is a character who has never done things by halves in the past: his productions have steadily matured from his early adventures in dubstep, through to the innovative electronic explorations of 2014’s Flatland LP. It’s for his turntable skills that many hold him most dear though, and so for his first official mix expectations were stacked high; naturally, the end result doesn’t disappoint.
Where previous online podcasts had offered many thrills and energetic, clubby sounds, Kern Vol. 3 matches them, but is a whole lot more theatrical—a test of how much can be squeezed out of the regular mix format. Reminders of the Berlin-based selector’s meticulous approach lie in every twist, turn and transition, carefully condensing his own erudite musical history into just 75 quick-moving minutes.
Much like friend and contemporary Ben UFO’s Fabriclive contribution, the mix is characterized by unpredictable darting and diving in all directions, and its coverage of decades of different electronic music. Progressions and phrases endure brief spells only, and so you can more or less launch in at any point. There are some recurring themes, however: experimentalism abounds, with drone and ambient-related cuts from the likes of Ondo Fudd, Bee Mask and Yair Elazar Glotman shaking things up (arriving at a point that could cause the inattentive listener to think they have finished and moved on from the mix). Around them, his penchant for clunky broken beats shines through in a variety of guises, from the dark electro of Mono Junk’s 1993 “I’m Okey” to the darker yet “Stuck” by Fret. In fact, gloom pervades many of the selections; a quality that Hertz remedies with fun moments like DJ Sotofett’s ragga remix of Dresvn or the samba vibes of Oliver Ho’s “Can You Dance” edit.
Kern Vol. 3 alsohas an unusual power in its ability to emphatically command and maintain attention. At some points, it’s the sheer loudness of the tracks—the wall of noise from Nick Forté’s “Druse” is a startling smack to the face. Equally, Hertz commits a chunk of time to rifling through the kind of muscular techno you might expect to hear in Tresor itself. He glides through TX81Z and Polzer’s contributions, gains momentum with Heckmann’s cosmic “Chiswick Days,” and fully takes off with Sole Tech’s “Jit The Anthem” (a superb, emotive cut lifted from one of the Detroit act’s rare ‘90s EPs, one of his finer digs). The energy is palpable, and somehow builds further when he expertly slams in Ueno Masaaki’s “Supersolid State.” You can’t help but be sucked in.
All these features wouldn’t work in the wrong hands. Hertz is on point with every little detail: take the introduction of Kirk Degiorgio’s explosive “Nebula Variation,” a transition that erupts through tense, trance-like strings, perfectly timed and precisely executed. It’s a stark contrast to the spinback that bridged a couple of earlier cuts, and an indicator of the spread of techniques he employs.
Kern Vol. 3 is not really an evergreen compilation—its uncompromising and challenging moments make for a mix that you probably wouldn’t return to all that regularly. It’s most likely to serve neither as background music nor as one for the morning commute; what it is, however, is a spectacular composition, and an essential reminder of what can be accomplished with the mix CD.
Kern Vol. 3 is out now. Buy it at Tresor's online store.
01. _moonraker "Canobraction"
02. Beatrice Dillon "Halfway"
03. Aleksi Perälä "UK74R1409037"
04. Seldom Seen "So So So"
05. Final Cut "The Escape"
06. Mono Junk "I'm Okey"
07. nsi. "Squelch"
08. Echo 106 "100M Splutter"
09. Future/Past "Nebula Variation"
10. The Persuader "What Is the Time, Mr. Templar?"
11. Birdland "Can U Dance To My Edit?"
12. Pollon "Lost Souls"
13. Fret "Stuck"
14. Shanti Celeste "Lights"
15. Anna Caragnano & Donato Dozzy "Love Without Sound"
16. Clatterbox "Aspect Ratio"
17. Via App "From Across the Room (edit)"
18. TX81Z "Googol"
19. Polzer "Static Rectifier"
20. Thomas Heckmann "Chiswick Days"
21. Sole Tech "Jit the Anthem (75 South)"
22. Ueno Masaaki "Supersolid State"
23. Dave Smolen "Manual Control"
24. Aleksi Perälä / Nick Forte "Untitled (Colundi everyOne) / "Druse"
25. Bee Mask "Frozen Falls"
26. Marcus Schmickler & Julian Rohrhuber "Linear Congruence / Intercalation"
27. Ondo Fudd "Blue Dot"
28. Yair Elazar Glotman "Oratio Continua (Part I)"
29. Rully Shabara "Faring"
30. ACI_EDITS "02"
31. Dresvn ft. Sensational "Bliss" (DJ Sotofett's Raggabalder Dubplate Version)
32. Machine Woman "Swedishmanwithtwoblackboxes"
33. Anokie "Black Knight Satellite"
34. Skarn "Revolver"
35. Ruff Cherry "The Empath"
36. Space Brothers "Lodore" (Purple Twilight remix)