Hot on the heels of the DJ mix of 2013 from John Talabot and following luminaries such as Maya Jane Coles, Maceo Plex and Breach, next in line to mix it up for the esteemed !K7 DJ-Kicks series is Aus Music and Simple Records boss Will Saul. Englishman Saul has had a busy 12 months – not only did 2013 see him release his debut album as Close, an avant guard dance-pop project that called upon high profile collaborators like Scuba and Appleblim and landed on !K7, but so too did he make his debut in the live arena at clubs like London’s influential fabric. Of course, in that time he has also continued to steer both his labels down various underground house, bass and techno paths, nurturing new talent and old heads alike. Says the man himself… “I wanted the mix to represent how I DJ in the sense that the majority of my sets are made up mainly of my own, or my label’s, unreleased or forthcoming music. Hopefully this gives me something unique as DJ, not just as I play tracks that no one else has, but also because they are artists and tracks that I love enough to want to sign, so they really represent what I love about electronic music. “With this in mind, I approached all my nearest and dearest for some tailor made exclusive tracks. The result is hopefully a mix that rekindles the thing I loved about listening to mixes 20 years ago – that unknown aspect where each new track is a surprise. In a time when all music/track IDs and myriad mixes are accessible at the click of a button, I hope this makes for something a little more interesting.” Will Saul’s DJ-Kicks represents a condensed version of one of his DJ sets – it touches on all aspects from warm-up to headline to closing sets and highlights the taste-making label boss’s current musical fascinations in terms of the producers he is working with be they new, unknown or more established. The mix kicks off with one of the three tracks Saul himself has had a hand in. ‘Bendy’ in collaboration with Komon is a beatless, smeary synth sketch that leads into the airy and spring like house of Animal Hands. From there many members of the extended label families pop up – Cottam with his roughshod afro influences, Youandewan with his cuddly deep house and Sei A with his well swung grooves. Gerry Read serves up a typically raw jam in ‘Baseball’, October proves he makes deeper techno than anyone and Bicep’s evolution into ever more exciting forms continues with ‘Nova’. Away from the Aus and Simple labels, inclusions from Marquis Hawkes, Legowelt and Walton all fit in perfectly to the overall picture. Touching on all the styles synonymous with both Will Saul and each of his labels, his DJ-Kicks never stays in one place for too long. Instead it moves quickly and coherently through many different shades and sounds, and is another essential instalment in the series as a result.