DJ-Kicks is Laurel Halo's first commercially available mix, but it follows a decade's worth of podcast mixes for various music websites, as well as a background in college radio. Like her music, Halo's mixes incorporate styles from throughout the history of dance music, often leaning toward Detroit techno/electro and U.K. bass culture, but she's also likely to venture into musique concrete and contemporary composition. Halo's DJ-Kicks has a few abstract moments, but it's mainly a steady, headstrong mix, running through nearly 30 tracks in an hour. While never sticking to one sound for long, the mix frequently returns to electro-techno, sometimes of the EBM/industrial persuasion. A track from early, Jeff Mills-era Final Cut surfaces, as well as other Detroit producers such as Stallone the Reducer and FIT Siegel. Halo unearths a lot of gems here, from the trippy, fractured bass music of Siete Catorce to hypnotic, 8-bit-spiked gqom of South African producer Griffit Vigo. The tough, storming electro of Ikonika's exclusive "Bodied (OG Mix)" is another standout. Halo includes several tracks from throughout her own catalog, ranging from the IDM abrasion of "Oneiroi" (off 2013's Chance of Rain) to the swift, assuring "The Light Within You" from her 2018 collaboration with Hodge. "Sweetie," a track Halo composed specially for this mix, surprisingly ends up being one of the most straightforward, stripped-down club tracks she's ever made. The mix never seems to have a specific direction in mind; what's more important is the fact that the energy is kept up throughout, as well as the level of anticipation.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo