A common complaint of the dance scene is that good DJs are expected to be good producers, and vice versa, when the two require very different skills. Typically artists earn most of their money from performing, and they’re asked to perform based on their productions. They’re expected to do it all. While a handful of acts excel in both domains, the balance is rarely even. Meanwhile, top producers tend to get more hype than the best DJs – consider how many of the finest DJs, if they don’t regularly put out music, are considered ‘cult’ figures.
Dekmantel’s Selectors festival is a response to this industry confusion. Selectors held its first edition in Croatia last year, booking talent based on their DJing prowess rather than their work in the studio. The Selectors compilation series works towards the same ends, asking DJs to curate a compilation of personal favourites and forgotten gems. After Motor City Drum Ensemble’s first edition, Dekmantel have tapped Dutch selector Young Marco for the follow-up. It’s a fitting choice, given that Marco Sterk floated to the top of the European house scene largely thanks to his joyous, eclectic DJ sets.
That’s not to dismiss Sterk’s productions – the Rush Hour associate has put out a solid run of records that fold italo, balearic, new age and disco influences into a buoyant house signature. All of those styles are namechecked on his Selectors compilation, the tracks united by their brightness and lighthearted bearing rather than a stylistic homogeneity.
The highlights come thick and fast, from Danny Boy’s italo-indebted funk opener Diskomix right through to the anesthetised glide of 10-minute closer Objects In Mirrors. Sterk’s selections are mostly airy and colourful, whether with the wide-eyed innocence of Ghostwriters’ Swizzle or the measured, subtle pads of Larry Heard’s lesser-known Dolphin Dream.
Occasionally Sterk veers off-piste, with the laid-back African percussion of Pfad Des Windes later picked up in Frank’s somewhat madcap Whirr. Given the generally relaxed atmospheres, tracks like The Force Dimension’s 200 FA stand out starkly, where an enormous bassline tears past glassy synths and a pummelling drum workout. Later the collection gets its real highlight with Greene Baize’s cruelly short Spick And Span, a heady blend of growling bass and sifting FX, keys picked out like neon striplights on a dark street.
Each track sounds beautifully rich, despite age, and there’s barely a dud in the pack. It’s a double win for Young Marco on Selectors 002 – he’s able to express his own vision through the music of others, even without mixing, and unearth a set of gems to share with the world.