Steel Wheels Keep on Turning

The Top DJ Mixes of 2006.

The Year in Music
DJ mixes have been multiplying like e-mail spam over the last decade. The sheer volume makes one wonder: Who the hell is buying them? There must be a demand if labels keep issuing the things — as if the record industry has a future. Whoever you are, bless you for keeping this art form financially solvent. Here are five worth the money (in alphabetical order):

Fabric 27 (Fabric Records)

Marco Carola
Fabric 31 (Fabric Records)

Audion (Detroit’s Matthew Dear) and the Italian Marco Carola are masters of experimental yet pumping techno. They spin the brainy anthems to which you can swing your shirt around your head and shout yourself hoarse while still respecting yourself in the morning. Both jocks favor the intricately designed minimalism that’s gained momentum in forward-thinking clubs, but their aural menu will still sound damned exotic to 99.8 percent of the population. Roll over Paul Oakenfold, and tell DJ Tiesto the news.

Panorama Bar 01 (Ostgut)

In Germany and other enlightened European nations, hundreds of people will pack a venue and dance from midnight till 10 a.m. to weird, slant-grooved techno. These dynamos are lucky to have DJs like Cassy to provide their bizarrely hedonistic soundtracks. A resident at Berlin’s Panorama Bar, Cassy recreates a portion of a typically sublime night at said emporium. Her mix elegantly combines scrupulous tonal science with near-peak-time euphoria — a difficult balance to attain.

Four Tet
DJ-Kicks (!K7)

Englishman Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet) makes eclecticism sound like the best idea ever on this 20-track mix. He’s one of those DJs with voracious curiosity, fantastic taste, and a knack for connecting unlikely tracks into revelatory segues: avant-dronesmithery, electro, funky soul, menacing synth-rock, U.K. garage, microhouse, tribal indie rock, jazz fusion, African mbira jams, underground hip-hop, fruity prog rock, classic techno, IDM . . . Need I go on?

Girl Talk
Night Ripper (Illegal Art)

The sensational reaction to Night Ripper has rocketed Girl Talk (Pittsburgh’s Gregg Gillis) to Rust Belt Diplo status. Dude’s received tons of hype and consequently performed before loads of celebs and shallow trend-sniffers, but don’t hate on Girl Talk. He’s earned the prestige by splicing together the most enjoyable mash-up document to date. Night Ripper is an ADD-addled mixtape of supreme cleverness, boasting more fun per minute than any release this year. The disc is like a remix of nearly 40 years’ worth of Top 40 charts, expertly edited — Gillis surgically implants more than 150 sample sources — for maximum party-rockin’ and ironic belly laughs.

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