DJ Koze Reincarnations Part 2

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When it comes to remixes, DJ Koze (a.k.a. Stefan Kozalla) doesn't follow a strict formula. In fact, the only sure thing about his reworks is that they will always be of a certain quality, because the German dance music curio is not someone who simply loads up a trademark Koze synth and lackadaisically layers it in before firing the results back to whoever commissioned his services. On the contrary, Kozalla's remixes run the gamut: some are subtle reworkings, some tease out only the slightest elements of an original, and some are wholly unrecognizable, but that's what makes him great.

What's better, the man himself knows it—and even boasts about his skills. Reincarnations Part 2 actually includes a skit in which a radio host asks him who is the greatest remixer. "I've thought about this for a long time and, it's me. No wait… ummm, yes, it's me," says Koze. It may not be the most humble claim, but it's also a notion that many would agree with; in the mold of other amusingly self-referential figures like Moodymann and Omar-S, Koze is the center of his own curious musical universe. It's a place where jangling and organic swing (his remix of Herbert's "You Saw It All") sits comfortably next to skeletal, glitchy electronica (his rework of The Big Crunch Theorie's "Distortion") and somber, downbeat house (his take on Caribou's "Found Out"). In other words, Koze never does the same trick twice, something that is showcased brilliantly across this remarkably strong collection of remixes, all of which surfaced between 2009 and 2014.

Granted, five years is quite a long time when it comes electronic music, so it's notable that none of these efforts feel dated. Most hover around a human and inviting 120 bpm, and throughout each one, something always seems to be happening, however surreptitiously. There's always a new pattern emerging, a weird new sound source referenced, or a curveball coming the listener's way. Flamboyant a character as he is, though, Koze is smart enough to avoid relying too heavily on sheer weirdness. Sure, he can be bizarre better than just about anyone, but he also knows how to reign himself in. His Hudson River Dub of Who Made Who's "Keep Me in My Plane" proves that in spades: it's a perfectly reduced and simmered-down brew of forlorn vocal samples and romantically seductive late-night minimalism that does just enough to keep things compelling.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are efforts like his Grungerwomen Remix of Ada's "Faith," a frazzled, distorted, humming, and buzzing affair that busily flickers in and out, as though he's spinning the wheel of an old FM radio dial. That one is just plain weird, but Koze's folktronica take on Zwanie Jonson's "Golden Song" offers soul-soothing bliss while his rework of Herbert's "It's Only"—arguably his most famous remix to date—is a slice of classy club fodder built on prickly, sawtooth undulations. Despite these disparate results—and much like the similarly excellent first installment of Reincarnations from 2009—Part 2 unfolds perfectly. Whether the music is charmingly loose and playful, more insular and sensitive, or reveling in all-out freakiness, the album is an absorbing ride through the singular mind of DJ Koze, not to mention something that incredibly makes perfect sense in just about any situation.