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  Vikter Duplaix DJ-Kicks
by Sterling McGarvey

Vikter DuplaixHaving worked with such luminaries as King Britt, Erykah Badu, and the legendary Kenny Gamble, Philadelphia's Vikter Duplaix is coming on strong. With his hodgepodge of sonic diversity, Duplaix is an ideal candidate for the latest CD in !K7's world-reknowned DJ-Kicks series. Yes, this disc can stand alongside Thievery Corporation, Carl Craig, Smith & Mighty, and Kemistry & Storm as holding up the !K7 pedigree.

Duplaix's interpretation of the DJ-Kicks sound becomes a sonic cocktail reimagined as a mixtape. Replace a reknowned NYC mixtape legend like DooWop, Funkmaster Flex, or DJ Clue with a disembodied, synthesized voice (that's also a little less intrusive than constantly hearing "New Nas!" "Clue-minati!" and the like), and you've got the perfect voice to accompany the mix. It breezes along with a breakneck 20 tracks mashed together like a fine paste into just short of 74 minutes. Deep, percussive House a la François K, mixed in with the production influences of a man who has worked with Badu, Eric Benet, Musiq Soulchild, and Jazzanova, and brush it off with arguably the most obese cut on the last De La Soul album and you've got the idea of where this disc wants to take you. It is a very personal album from a man who's got the ears to produce some great cuts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Critical Point's "The Beginning" opens up the disc with a tribal chant that melds with the proselytizing of a televangelist and works into Duplaix's own vocals, which sound inspired by Roy Ayers's "Shining Symbol." Don't ask; just dig in the crates for the original track. Taurus's "Together" jumps right in with its funky drums and bassline. The funny thing is, the cut wouldn't sound out of place on Rae & Christian's "ANOTHERLATENIGHT" album.

"Together" jumps right into the "Universal Sound" of 4Hero's "Hold It Down." As is appropriate of a 4Hero track, one can only expect it to be Soulful; pigeonholing them into a genre is always difficult. It's a bonafide head-nodder, but the clincher of the track comes at the end, when he quickly mixes in the (very) chunky Opaque remix of P'Taah's "The Crossing (Evacuation of Form)." It's a masher of a track, but the gem comes with Waiwan feat. Loretta Heywood — "Feelin' Me, Feelin' You." Mmm hmm. Synth strings over a conga loop that screams "git' yo' ass some Salsa lessons!" Herbert's "You Saw It All" is up next. One finds it strange to coin terms to describe tracks (the Dance Music lexicon is already pretentiously bloated with too many subgenre names — I mean, which casual listener in America could ever comprehend the British trend of "Handbag House?"), but this one could be described as Soulful Minimal Tech-House. Yeah, that's worth a shot. Lock Richie Hawtin in a room with Robert Owens and you're getting there...

Vikter Duplaix Osunlade's "Tree of Life" is a string-y Deep House goodness that wouldn't sound out of place at Body & Soul. It blends into Duplaix's own cut, "Sensuality," which brings to mind a friend of mine's (thanks, ms. downbeat!) three word phrase to describe Mr. Duplaix: "Vikter is SEX!" Yep, "Sensuality" is a sheet-crumpler. I can't wait to see the forthcoming video for this one. Before we get a chance to breathe, the bassline of Nepa Allstars's "The Way" has jumped into our speakers. Almost like a Naked Music track played backwards, "The Way" skips around before it deconstructs and Ashley Beedle's reworking of Shawn Lee's "Happiness" cues up. The best way to describe "Happiness" is as though the progression of cuts were a car speeding down the freeway, and this track is the nail-ridden plank that bursts a tire. It's an acoustic guitar tune worked in complete contrast to of the synths and electronic sounds that precede it. Yet, it still works. Mandrake's "Berimbau" gets tossed in the mix next, and it sounds like the sort of track that a rare groove fanatics go for headfirst.

"Free as the Morning Sun" brings the uplifting vocal business to a Latin Jazz track. "Welcome to the World" continues in that transition as the tempo comes up a bit over a track with a melody that sounds like someone turning off a turntable and quickly turning it back on. And then....

..."Transition." Turn the tape over to Side B, kids. We've had the Afro-Caribbean Deep House workout and smooth riding; it is with the switch to Hip-Hop that Duplaix completely switches up. Easy transitioning gives way to colliding tracks that stack on one another rather than bleed into each other. Spacek's "How Do I Move?" starts off the switch. Crooning vocals over abstract, yet bouncy Hip-Hop is the order of the day here. It smacks into De La Soul's "Copa (Cabanga)," which, alongside "Declaration," seems to be the cuts on "Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump" most championed by House DJs who flirt with Hip-Hop. Supa Dav West's banging beat and De La's vocals get the filter treatment until it abruptly cuts off. Bahamadia's "Philadelphia" instrumental smooths things out. As it quietly fades out, the voice of Erykah Badu picks up and the energy of a live performance of "Bag Lady" infuses the tail end of the disc. Oh yeah, and she lets it all go at the end. I mean, she really lets loose. Philip Charles' "Holy Sounds" brings a deep, dubby bassline and disembodied vocals to a jam session-y drum roll. As the track reaches a funky, uplifting zenith, the final track, New Sector Movement's "The Sun" sends the album off on a up note, just like any good album should.

It might sound strange, but this is not the sort of disc that someone can only listen to three tracks and call it a day. The nature of the cuts is to flow into one another. Like a good story, leaving out one element damages the rest of the tale irreparably. Sleep to this. Drive to it. Chill to it. Enjoy it. You'll be hearing much more from Mr. Duplaix and his Universal Sound in the future. Get on board now.

Related links

At Amazon.com

DJ Kicks from Amazon.com DJ Kicks
Compiled and mixed by Vikter Duplaix
Track Listing:

  1. The Beginning - Critical Point
  2. Together - Taurus (Cry Tuff Original)
  3. Hold It Down - 4Hero
  4. The Crossing (Opaque Mix) - P'Taah
  5. Feelin Me Feelin You - Waiwan feat. L Heywood
  6. You Saw It All - Herbert
  7. Tree Of Life - Osunlade
  8. Sensuality - Vikter Duplaix
  9. The Way - Neppa Allstars
  10. Happiness (A. Beedle Mix) - Shawn Lee
  11. Berimbau - Mandrake
  12. Free As The Morning Sun - Mr. Hermano
  13. Welcome To The World - Hopper
  14. Transition - Critical Point
  15. How Do I Move - Spacek
  16. Copa (Cabanga) - De La Soul
  17. Bahamadia - Philadelphia
  18. Bag Lady - Erykah Badu
  19. Holy Sound - Philip Charles
  20. The Sun - New Sector Movements

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