Koze through the looking glass is a reading of bedtime stories for cosmic disco romantics. A follower of its own path and bringing an enchantment honored by the album cover’s mediaeval superhero impersonation, its light-fingered grip holds firm throughout. Heavy is the path less travelled, winding up like clockwork until the springs go loco when it does, with sighing vocals indicative of the reassurances Koze consistently offers.
Deep house settlers keep things simple, working a little heartening charm that lets you reach your own woozy highs and joys, whether by long unbroken background synth lines (“Royal Asscher Cut”), the impeccably preened (“Ich Schreib’ Dir Ein Buch”) or just by knowing that Koze will take his time until you’re soul-deep in the beats, with a plinking set of chimes here or a Beams-worthy appearance by Matthew Dear there.
“Magical Boy” notifies that spring has sprung, complete with the sound of bounding bunnies and a cast of quirks. “Das Wort” holds a flashlight to the face of Dirk von Lowtzow, but becomes a cuddly folk-in-toytown detour, part of another facet that Koze might spring something new at any moment despite gambolling down a pretty preordained yellow brick road. “Homesick” is more a neo-soul format with a Susanne Vega-style lead, and “Marilyn Whirlwind” jumps out at you with a rare lack of sensitivity but plenty more funk and electricity compared to the headswims Koze coaches.
Well done to those charged with whittling down the electronic titan’s platinum anniversary down to just two discs — let’s also hope part 1 actually means there will be a part 2. Should your opinion of German labels be a stale cliché — maybe it’s those hard Ks in the name lending themselves to straight-talking effectiveness/ruthlessness — you’ll be thrilled by the automation of Justus Köhncke, Leandro Fresco and Dettinger, though perhaps less enamoured with little flits of the flatter that include Matias Aguayo’s “Walter Neff” not seeming to fit in anywhere.
Those knowing Kompakt’s creativity are offered the sumptuously funky (Aguayo via DJ Koze) as a smooth veil to the mechanised edges and components, found in the everlasting chugs of Voigt & Voigt’s disco-techno “Vision 03” and The Field’s “Over the Ice”. Minimalist techno tradition is held close, done as an all-for-one, inclusive against narrow-minded span. Out of Michael Mayer’s good n itchy deep houser “Lovefood,” comes the crossover-ready “Transient” by Pluxus and its snooping Ford tie-in, and Heiko Voss hankering for a hammock gives the collection quite a head-in-the-clouds headstart.
The excellent disc two gets down to business with techno for the head while leaving your heart heaving. It becomes a battle and balance between light and heavy (of which John Tejada is the most brutal), organic and automated (Rex the Dog getting synths to squirt and stun), and the freedom and focus of The Rice Twins, Jonas Bering, Kaito, Lawrence, GusGus and Gui Boratto.