Various Artists

Those looking for a mix CD that represents everything that is right with dance music today need look no further. Trevor Jackson, the man behind last year's popular Playgroup LP, has compiled and mixed a collection of groovers that spans the past two decades. Jam-packed with Eighties production, Jackson's contribution to the K7! DJ Kicks series best reflects the left-field flavor of the nightlife's most daring selectors. Don't expect retro nostalgia, though, as each track is blissfully mixed together, making it hard to determine yesterday's gems from tomorrow's.

In the same spirit as DJs like Harvey and Doc Martin, Jackson's strength is in his crate-digging, and as far as track selection goes, DJ Kicks - Playgroup may well be the best compilation Studio K7! has ever released. Tracks like Chicken Lips' ESG-infused remix of Niga's "March of the General" mingle effortlessly with the street-tough lo-fi attitude of Harlequin Fours' 1985 cover version of Strafe's classic "Set It Off."

This knack for selection is no surprise, as Jackson has spent the past decade immersed in music and its culture. Starting his career as a graphic designer for seminal New York label 4th and Broadway in the late Eighties, Jackson first grabbed the ears of listeners with a series of hip-hop remixes in the mid-Nineties under the moniker Underdog. Still it was 2001's Playgroup that garnered Jackson cover-boy status on many of Europe's dance magazines. In itself the Playgroup LP was a flawless journey through the sounds of the 1980s. From hip-house collaborations with KC Flight to Kathleen Hanna's Slits impression on "Bring It On," the album was an encyclopedia of Eighties cool.

DJ Kicks - Playgroup follows suit. Most of the tracks included share a common thread of porno-synth and dub. From the laid-back funk of Metro Area's "Caught Up" to Random Factor's new-romantic vocal-driven "Broken Mirror," the album has much sleaze appeal. Also to Jackson's credit is the fact that, unlike many of the mixes in the DJ Kicks series, this album has the sound of a live mix, in all its brilliant imperfection. Quite possibly the best mix CD of the year.

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Dafydd McKaharay