Album: Kern Vol. 3
Record Label: Tresor
Release Date: 15th July 2016
In an age where dance music and club culture is one of the most viable gauges of forward-thinking youth abandon and streaming services continue to expand, it makes sense that the art of the mix is ever progressing as well. Berlin-based producer TJ Hertz (aka Objekt) has, since his break-out 12" Cactus/ Porcupine in 2012, become an embodiment of the notion that even in a digital age a vast gap exists between the act of searching for music and the actual listening experience. Kern Vol.3, his debut mix CD, supplies the backbone to the argument that DJ-ing shouldn't be easy, and that the smashing of expectations has somewhat become more exciting on the dance floor than fluidity.
Squeezing thirty-six tracks into just over an hour and fifteen minutes, timing and judgement of execution is pivotal for Kern Vol.3, but it never really causes one to lose focus or track of textures, beauty of time signature changes. Thematically there's a certain sense of disconnection. Many of the transitions, like the stopping dead of the tape between Seldom Seen's 'So So So' and Final Cut's monstrous 'The Escape', don't really make sense, but the tension and eventual eruption is completely seductive.
Whether the mix picks up a banging momentum or pauses for breath, the breaks and gaps often become part of the process. The off-kilter, sax-indebted bounce of Birdland's 'Can U Dance To My Edit?'- in turn a fitting mantra for the entire mix- blends seamlessly into Pollon's atmospherically infectious 'Lost Souls'. The mind-frying acid of TX81Z's 'Googol' into Polzer's searing 'Static Rectifier' is a prime example of the aforementioned pace this record gains.
Arguably the most wilfully deconstructive segment comes a few moments later. The gorgeous, classical bent of Ondo Fudd's 'Blue Dot' arrives with pin-point precision, a transmission from a time and place lost in a whirlwind of techno chaos. It's only to be subsequently upended a few minutes later however, with a fusion of Rully Shabara's disturbing vocal melt-down 'Faring' and the dramatic drones of Yair Elazar Glotman's 'Oratio Continua'.
Kern Vol.3 can seem uncompromising both on paper and in practise, but amid all the alien focus, sensitivity is never completely lost. There's plenty of eerie dystopia in the synth work of Echo 106's '100M Splutter', and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance of Anna Caragnano & Donato Dozzy's 'Love Without Sound' is every bit as reflective as it should be. The deep-end becomes a little too drawn-out within the last fifteen minutes or so, but does very little to degrade Hertz' often faultless understanding as a DJ. It's a mix that ultimately makes its focus the contrast between the light and the dark, the beautiful and the ugly, and in retrospect there aren't many better suited to giving the uninitiated a way in than TJ Hertz.