Stefan Kozalla is the rare DJ who doesn’t usually dial back his presence when producing vocal tracks, nor does he overwhelm the singer; instead, he insists that everyone shine simultaneously – a nice metaphor for the dance floor’s egalitarian, communal spirit. You can admire this fine touch in much of his remix work, as well as on his magnificent 2013 Amygdala, one of the decade’s finest electronic LPs. It’s even more evident on his latest, which enlists an A-list stable of singers, sampled and otherwise, for a set that’s seamlessly transporting, front to back.
The mood is uplifting but chill and definitely psychedelic – think Disclosure’s Settle designed less for a discotheque than an Ayahuasca ceremony. “Bonfire” cut ‘n’ pastes vocal samples from Bon Iver’s “Calgary,” making new meanings with Justin Vernon’s warmly cryptic words in a massage-chair techno groove. “This Is My Rock” features Baltimore-to-Hamburg expat Sophia Kennedy – who released a great debut LP last year on Kozalla’s Pampa label – in a rainbow swirl of Sixties-style R&B vocals and timbres. His best slight of hand is “Pick Up,” which isolates bits of Gladys Knight’s vocals from her exquisitely lugubrious 1972 ballad signature “Neither One of Us (Want to Be The First to Say Goodbye)” and releases them incrementally, like so many luftballoons, over a dizzying disco-house groove. Róisín Murphy, José González and Arrested Development’s Speech also turn up in the album’s mix, to tasty effect. So does Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, who conjures one side of a stoned heart-to-heart with a significant other on “Muddy Funster,” flitting from climate change worries to puns about therapy, wrapped in a blanket of electronic effects and ultra-downtempo beats, as seemingly comforted by the music as the listener will likely be.