I had never heard of Optimo before I spun the massively entertaining How To Kill The DJ Part 2 release that came out about a year and a half ago on Tigersushi. That 2CD set included an insanely-varied mix that swerved between minimal techno like Ricardo Villalobos and post punk like Gang Of Four in semi-smooth ways. In places, though, it (and the second disc of eclectic individual tracks) seemed to be a showcase for a couple of guys who liked to show off just how deep and wide their record collection is.
Just in case you were getting sick of all mix CDs sounding the same, Optimo is back once again, and just like before they’ve gone all out in terms of variety, with everything from old school prog to early industrial to acid techno and back again making an appearance. Better yet, the Psyche Out mix as a fluid piece of music flows much better than the predecessor from Optimo. One need look no further than the first ten minutes of the mix to get a good idea of the sorts of things going down. After opening with a touch of Vapourspace, the duo mixes into a bit of Hawkwind, then on to Silver Apples and finally on to a DFA mix of Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom. There’s hardly a bump along the way, as the intensity of the mix slowly builds and decades are jumped in the course of minutes.
It’s a little hard to even know what to start talking about when the mix has twenty-four tracks and runs well over seventy-five minutes in length, and fortunately you can dip your toe in just about anywhere and land on something great. Hitting about halfway through the disc is a Carl Craig remix of “Hot On The Heels Of Love” by Throbbing Gristle, and it sounds both retro and future-gazing. Later on, the duo mashes up “Theme For Great Cities” by Simple Minds over the classic acid of “Test One” by Acid Test, and the result is something oddly compelling yet slightly queasy.
It’s probably at least partially due to my love for the music of Arthur Russell, but the inclusion of “Kiss Me Again” by Dinosaur is a particularly inspired choice, and after a long mix-in intro, Optimo gives the long track almost a free reign, unfurling over seven minutes of the horrendously catchy original (which was reworked into a 22 minute beast by Polmo Polpo on last year's Kiss Me Again And Again EP). They don’t let the listener get away without any rock, either, as the album closes with a little “Time Has Come Today” by the Chamber Bros and “Johnny Cash” by Sons And Daughters. Like the best of mixes, Psyche Out not only makes you re-evaluate the tracks you’ve heard (by placing them in new, exciting places), but will most likely introduce you to something that you haven’t heard. Needless to say, this disc kicks some ass, and it’s easily one of the best mixes I’ve heard in the past five years.