Dixon: Live at Robert Johnson Vol. 8

The mix-CD series concludes on a beautiful high note.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

First, the bad news: This release is the last mix-CD to come from the Frankfurt, Germany, club Robert Johnson, and considering that the compilation series includes contributions from the likes of cosmic disco guru Prins Thomas, electronic-music eclecticist Roman Flgel and the Parisian standout Chlo, that's quite a loss. Now, some news that's even worse: This also is the final entry in the mix-CD stakes for Dixon. The head of the Innervisions label cites the usual beefs—trouble with licensing tracks, the time constraints of a CD and the ol' "why-bother-making-these-damn-things-any-more" thing—as his reasons. It's our misfortune, as he's a wonderful DJ with a range that takes in deep and introspective material, driving house and techno, and bumping disco and boogie. But here, finally, is a happier bulletin: Live at Robert Johnson Vol. 8 is one of the best sets we've heard this year, and marks a high point for both the series and for the Dixon himself.

The first act of the mix, somewhat appropriately, comes off as a sonic eulogy, starting with the elegiac ambience of P. ladan's "Morgenthal" and Ursula Bogner's "2 Ton" before drifting into Dominique's haunting and yearning "He Said." Slightly jauntier works from likes of the German prepared-piano composer Hauschka follow, but it's not until nearly 20 minutes in—with Agoria's dreamy and gentle "For One Hour"—that anything resembling a beat drops. From that point on, the mix builds with a series of restrained house tracks, including Mark E's tender and slightly goofy "Call Me"—which, in a timely if accidental tribute, features a nifty reference to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," cowritten by the late Nick Ashford. The set ends with Todd Terje's "Snooze 4 Love," a lovely little groover that combines a dash of mournfulness with a dollop of elation. It's a fitting end to an emotional, thoughtful and downright beautiful collection of tunes.

Dixon plays at Time to Get Ill Friday, September 9.