Release Date: Jan 27, 2014
Record label: URP Music Distribution
At times it feels like Moodymann has an abusive relationship with his fans. Depending on where you bought it, the vinyl version of his latest album could cost as much as €37—the price of a collector's item or even a box set. And that's assuming you could actually get one: despite the price, copies of Moodymann flew off the shelves in days, and at the time of writing were being resold on Discogs for around €80.
Detroit's Kenny Dixon Junior, better known as Moodymann represents better than any living DJ the true spirit of house music, and any producer who attempts to imbue electronic music with some soul owes him a debt of gratitude. His coming was foretold by Robert Owens in the seminal Can You Feel It? He is a musical seer, channelling the spirit, hurt and soul of his native Detroit. For his new self-titled release on his own Mahogani Music imprint, Moody moves away the deep soulful grooves that made his name and instead focuses on creating a new sound that, while retaining the breaks and drum machines that are his trademark, is now coloured with live instrumentation and Kenny's delightfully sleazy croon.
After the rise of “The Belleville Three”—Detroit techno originators Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins (soon joined by Carl Craig)—and after that decidedly Eurocentric African-American musical export took root in London and Berlin, Kenny Dixon Jr. represented the second wave of homegrown Detroit electronic music masters. He released his first single in 1994 and helmed a renaissance of that scene alongside peers like Rick Wilhite, Marcellus Pittman and Theo Parrish (the four intermittently collaborate as 3 Chairs).
A cursory glance at the cover of Moodymann, the self-titled full-length from the mercurial Detroit producer, connects Kenny Dixon Jr. to the posters and protagonists of the short-lived 1970s blaxploitation film movement. The caricature depicted exudes blaxploitation-era attitudes, with his roller-skating women, liquor and domineering demeanour. For many, this resonance won't necessarily come as a surprise: Dixon gave his 2010 Red Bull Music Academy interview surrounded by a gang of women, who combed his afro while he spoke and sported his face across their t-shirts.
After physical copies pretty much evaporated upon touching shelves, Moodymann’s latest, eponymous album has finally seen a digital release. In the interim however, Moodymann has inflated wildly, now standing at a monstrous 27 tracks in length through a generous stuffing of media samples and, in typical Kenny Dixon Jr fashion, a bunch of material that has already seen release. As a kind of home listening sequel, this version of the album plays out as one of Dixon’s signature collages, a loose, constantly shifting pastiche of moods and tempos, with jazz references and Detroit-themed clips used as pointed transitions.