No. 50: Optimo’s Mix CDs

If pressed, I’d probably claim Optimo—the Scottish DJ duo of JD Twitch and JG Wilkes—as my favorite 21st-century musical act/group/collective/whatever. Optimo’s mix CDs—the fleet-but-schizoid groove-hopping of 2004′s How to Kill the DJ; the deranged mix of acid rock and acid house on 2005′s Psyche Out; the brooding rhythms of 2007′s Walkabout—virtuosically entwine supposedly dance floor-unfriendly tracks with records with from across the pan-global history of disco, house, and techno. If that sounds simple or commonplace, ask yourself why so many DJs desperately cling to the easy-to-mix 4/4 stomp of the latest identikit dance smash, whether they spin for screaming bridge-and-tunnel house crowds or furrow-browed minimal techno aesthetes*.

In 2008, in addition to JD Twitch’s re-edits credited to Betty Botox, Optimo released two more mixes, neither of which (sadly) seemed to garner as much press as their earlier work. Their half of 20 Years Underground (Soma), a two-CD tribute to Glasgow’s Sub Club whose first disc was mixed by Subculture, was a near-traditional, yet still Optimo-ian, trek across decades and dance scenes, from the jittery Detroit bangers of Jeff Mills to the smoothly gliding retro-disco of Lindstrom and Prins Thomas.

More beguiling if obviously less body rocking, Sleepwalk (Domino) floated through a red-eyed, post-midnight world of jazz giants, eerily tactile field recordings, smoky Ethiopian voodoo, and industrial obscurities. It’s the year’s best past-your-bedtime soundtrack, compiled by two guys whose unpretentiously wide ears and decades-deep crates are our endless gain.

Optimo [MySpace]
80 ’08 (and Heartbreak)

*Or any other post-rave micro-marketing cliche you’d care to substitute.

  • Cam/ron

    It’s great to see Optimo getting some love here. My favorite Optimo mixes are their “Cold War” mix of 80′s songs that fit the CW tension and gloom of the early Thatcher/Reagan years, and their two-hour DFA Radio mix. Both can be downloaded for free.

  • joshuaryan

    Compliments to JD Twitch’s resident advisor podcast from the beginning of the year as well. Nothing like a ace mix for free.

    If I was granted a dream party with my pick of djs, I would venture to say these two would be at/near the top of the list.

  • Anonymous

    They were sooooo fun in Brooklyn earlier this year.

  • Anonymous

    @Cam/ron: Links?

  • Cam/ron

    @slowburn: Check out Optimo’s website and Google “DFA Radio.”