Essential Mix Review: MK holds the fort with unifying house spectacle
It is far too easy to scratch the surface of Detroit’s Marc Kinchen – known more widely by the initial imprinted on his left hand. A go-to remixer who has successfully induced more pop assets into the world of house music than any other North American player to date, his grasp was established long before that slow-burning remix of Storm Queen’s “Look Right Through” topped the UK charts and stuck vocal house music back on the menu. From 1996’s “Lift Me Up” to his work alongside Lee Foss and Annabel Englund as Pleasure State, an Essential Mix from a man with so many notches to his belt feels long overdue. With the world finally tuned in to his influential aura, there had never been a better time to reap the crops of outright industry domination now attributed to MK. This is one man who certainly wasn’t short of industry stripes. That doesn’t stop him reeling them in at the first quarter of 2014.
No mix from the Michigan trailblazer comes sparing on proud upheavel of house music fundamentals. This journey in sound ranges from back-to-basics slabs of Detroit floor diligence to the more recent strand so liberally mislabeled as deep house on the digital market. A rose by any other name, MK customizes the old, the new and the exciting from start to finish, yet furthering thoughts that this is an asset the wider industry should have been fixating over long before the ‘hits’ started chiming.
For those immediately underwhelmed by one of dance music’s longest travelled sounds to date, our man from Detroit has the cure. Testing the trail with amalgamations of Angel Haze, Haim and Paloma Faith alongside choice cuts from Nightcrawlers, Danny Tenaglia and Honey Dijon, the past and the present beautifully collide in the hands of this seasoned house whizz. In a genre often known for a fairly basic agenda, Kinchen paints a little outside the lines, throwing comfort zones and obvious manoeuvres out of the equation for a mix that celebrates the raw and resilient nature of heyday American house music.
With so many years and a wealth of monikers behind him, it would have far too easy to fill 120 minutes with just MK material. He doesn’t shy from such a prospect, making his take on the infamous mix series an incredibly personal reflection of a man whose rise to the spotlight still feels long overdue. The likes of his recent remix duties “Friday” and Sam Smith’s “Money on my Mind” echo this dual crossover capacity – one very few artists of his calibre have held with such consistency. The ever on point pop dubs fill the gaps for the club floor and the mainstream chart’s ongoing copulation, seamlessly spotlighting a man who has single handedly united two worlds in an original and immediately recognizable manner.There are no gimmicks, no forced elements and not a sign of evidence that MK’s untouchable presence is in anyway approaching tedium. At a time when dance music is in the mood for making statements, his is a reassuringly simple one: their has never been a more exciting time for house music.
When all is said and done, MK scores an early runner for Essential Mix of the year. He holds so many stakes in the genre’s modern lifeblood, translating it into a two hour journey of the sort of rudimentary musical experience that the late rising generation of dance fans is likely to have missed first time around. Late to the party or immersed in retrospective bliss, this is an essential mix that doesn’t discriminate between disciples new and old. House music has no shortage of North American pioneers, but to epitomize what is exciting about an entire generation of music with more than three-quarters of your own characterized material is what separates Kinchen from the nonchalant boys club. Simply put, this BBC spotlight could be one of the most stimulating house mixes ever committed to the airwaves.
We could continue to harp over these blurred lines between the underground and the mainstream that continue to split rooms and the blog sphere alike. Alternatively, we could celebrate an artist taking the emphasis off namesakes and leading with affirmative musical action in the name of American dance music’s mother tongue – a language the world looks likely to be speaking by the time MK has had his way.