Like recognizes like, and nowhere in music is that better articulated than in the hyper-stratified world of techno, where labels, rhythms, cities, and influences combine to make co-ordinates, and by extension, neighbors. If message boards are anything to go by, many bristled when Berlin's Get Physical first commissioned the latest installment of its Body Language DJ mix series from non-DJs Junior Boys, and yet both sides' co-ordinates are similar enough that the pairing actually makes sense; melody, warmth, a dollop of retro, and the renaissance of the artful dance vocal are just a few of their shared affinities.
The Junior Boys might not be expert mixologists, but as their LPs and remixer choices imply, they are voracious listeners with a clearly defined aesthetic. Body Language 6 plays to those strengths, shuffling between straightforward minimal techno, tracks from modern vocal-led dance contemporaries, and a handful of electro, disco, and new wave obscurities with the free-associative looseness and comfort of someone half-drunkenly interrogating their own LP collection.
This eclecticism is both BL6's greatest strength and weakness. Mixwise, it plays more like a loosely assembled block of individual moments rather than a fully formed set, the emphasis seeming more on the selection process of the pieces themselves rather than the way they hang together, as and such, might not fare well with those accustomed to Body Language's typically immaculately rendered rises and falls. As a panoramic snapshot of sounds and influences, though, it works beautifully. In fact, the range of variety on display in Body Language 6 conjures up comparisons to January's DJ-Kicks entry from Get Physical's flagship act, Booka Shade, which melded offbeat retro and sleek, streamlined techno to similar effect.
Structure-wise, Body Language 6 can be broken down into three basic acts. There's the rhythm-centric first third, which leans hard on techno and house, intercutting favorites like Supermayer's "Saturndays" and DJ Hell's remix of Chelonis R. Jones' "Deer in the Headlights" with more obscure sidebars like Love Nine's grinding "Feedback" and the brokedown rhythms of Kreon & Lemos' seasick "Fola". The familiar, whirligigging synths of Kelley Polar's "Rosenband" introduce the album's second and meatiest portion, a colorful half-hour of texture, synth and vocal-rich house and electro.
Not surprisingly, it's in this section that the mix sounds at its most authoritative; after softening things up with Steadycam's pressurized "In the Moog For Love" and Todd Terje's groove-heavy take on Studio's "Life's a Beach!", the pair sandwich bits of obscure italo (Pushé's "Don't Take Your Love Away") and spangly retro (Visage's "I'm Still Searching") between three newer tracks: Matthew Dear's superb "Deserter" B-side "You Know What I Would Do", Stereo Image's "Dark Chapter", and their own, previously unreleased orphan "No Kinda Man". Even though there's an ocean of 25 years between the five songs, their connections come logically and easily, making for one of the most satisfying stretches on the mix.
The fading strains of "No Kinda Man" (itself a serviceable but perhaps unremarkable b-side) give way to the album's final third, which consists of a quick squiggle of noir techno from Rework, Chloé (whose thrilling "Be Kind to Me" is clipped after two minutes) and F0st3r (aka Junior Boys' touring drummer Dave Foster). An appropriately off-brief non-sequitur from new wave alchemist Bill Nelson closes out the mix, underlining, in its three minutes, the set's devotion to materials over transitions. If cohesiveness and a DJ's artfulness are what you're after, Body Language 6 probably won't do much for you; those more interested in some fast and thoughtfully compiled glimpses of what gets spun on the Junior Boys' private time will find lots to like.
-Mark Pytlik, March 28, 2008