Despite what promoters might tell you, there is a difference between a DJ and a producer. However, there’s certainly plenty of double dipping and if the DJ-Kicks series is anything to go off, the contrast between an artist’s work behind the deck and in the studio can be quite substantial.

Recent contributors like Lone and Leon Vynehall explored music that they might have played live, but was much more concerned with sketching out a palette of influences. For Peggy Gou, she goes the opposite direction. Her DJ-Kicks is a distance from her studio work and often unfocused because of it.

The Berlin-by-way-of-South-Korea producer is still a fresh face. She’s released a slew of singles and EPs since 2016 and founded her own record label, Gudu, this year. Her own brand of house music is deeply indebted to disco, with a playful, nocturnal feel cozying up at the edges. And that’s on display for portions of DJ-Kicks. Spacetime Continuum’s hazy “Florescence” sounds like the opening to a rave at the planetarium. Gou follows the relaxed introductions with “Hungboo,” her only original on the album. It’s filled with chirping birds and film clips, overlaid on a bouncing rhythm. From this duo, it sounds like DJ-Kicks will transform into a humid, tropical set of beats with just enough goofiness to balance out moments of pensiveness. That does not happen. And Gou leaves the possibilities lying tantalizingly on the table.

What derails DJ-Kicks is the sudden swerve into techno. Though some of these tracks can be elastic and funky, much of the middle section goes distressingly hard, and for no particular reason. Especially considering the opening, DJ-Kick’s falls into an almost academic arms race, shuddering ‘90s beats and steely hi-hats obscuring the previously joyous vibe. There’s a feeling of tonal whiplash. “Perseguido por el rayo” sounds like it could have soundtracked a Terminator video game and pigs out on undeserved gravitas. Same goes for the stark “Pert,” which always seems to be a few seconds away from bursting into something interesting, but never does.

Considering the album’s 19 tracks, this middle section is a long, near impenetrable slog. There are welcome breaks, mostly in the form of the goofy stomp of DMX Krew’s “EPR Phenomena” and a wonderfully jittery Aphex cut. There’s also Pearson Sound’s “Earwig,” which treats its gritty synths with a wonderful fusion of menace and fun. If this was put on in the club, dancehall patrons would be flailing about in confusion.

Much like Vynehall’s also uneven DJ-Kicks, the treats come from the deep cuts and relating them to the main discography. Things pick back up to winking and danceable after Aphex Twin shows up. Psyche/BFC’s elegant “Crackdown” highlights Gou’s own tendency for shimmery luxury. And penultimate track “Epirus,” is aquatic and dream-like, winking at the midnight glow Gou loves to usher in. But that feeling is all too rare.

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