Download of the Week: DJ Kicks: Kruder & Dorfmeister

Much like Daffy Duck in the iconic Bugs Bunny cartoon involving the Genie in the Lamp where Daffy jumps repeatedly upon the lid of the Genie’s lamp in an effort to keep him inside and away from the cave of gold and jewels Daffy thinks are his, “Mine, Mine, Mine!” was the refrain I’m referring to for those unfamiliar with cartoons in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so too this is the feeling engendered in me when it comes to ‘90s trip-hop and downtempo treasures Kruder & Dorfmeister (nee Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister).

I almost don't want to share, but they're just too good not to. This duo has been a go-to staple of mine for chill-out listening sessions and critical review use alike because all their LPs are filthy with dense vocal, synth, drum machine and instrument layering – both analog and electronic – as well as a heavy dose of sampling that they take their time to bake into every track they conscript into their mixes which makes for a tough playback effort on any system.

It is my opinion that most of K&D’s work presents a more difficult sonic proposition for any DAC, preamplifier, amplifier or set of speakers to unravel and clearly delineate individual musical threads laced throughout these aural morasses than any massed-strings Mahler composition. As with all things in musical tastes, YMMV.

1993 saw the newly formed duo release their first EP G-Stoned which was soon in heavy rotation at clubs across both North and South America, Europe, Japan and Asia as turntablists across the globe took to the vinyl slabs like a duck to water.

1996 saw another of the DJ Kicks compilation albums released, this time with K&D and aptly named DJ-Kicks: Kruder & Dorfmeister. This came out under their newly-formed relationship with the Berlin-based !K7 record label who had collaborated with such House, drum & bass, trip-hop and downtempo legends as Booka Shade, Stereo MC’s, Nightmares On Wax and Thievery Corporation to name but a few luminaries of their respective burgeoning sonic scenes.

While 1998’s The K&D Sessions probably rates as my favourite overall LP by the pair, the ’96 DJ Kicks collaboration is one I’ve not spent enough time with recently and with four absolutely outstanding DACS in the bungalow at the moment, I thought I’d take it out for a whirl again and see how I felt about it 22 years on.

I wasn’t disappointed with the set featuring remixed cuts by The Herbaliser, Aquasky, James Bong, Beanfield and Thievery Corp as well classic K&D hits like “High Noon” (sampled from the Doobie Brothers's "Here to Love You") and “Black Baby.”

It’s impossible to not be instantly lured-in into the album as “A Mother” opens up with a booty-shaking bassline, sampled drum loop, jangly-guitar hook, electronic sonar riffs and a soul-filled sample of the lyric “a mother” repeating over and over.

The rolling Trenchtown-flavoured riddem intro of “Revolutionary Pilot” by Statik Sound System had the listening room’s windows flexing in sympathy with the deep dub bassline as funky organ noodling, a lonely trumpet and myriad percussion, electronic and keyboard effects floated well outside the speaker’s physical sphere of influence and seemed to wrap back around my head at times as it segued into the drum & bass-heavy “In Too Deep” by JMJ & Flytronix.

Shantel’s “Bass and Several Cars” rolls out like a freight train of electronic dub bottom-end cleverly arranged between the lowest octaves and liberally peppered with percussive samples, a hypnotizing keyboard and organ call-and-reply section and ethereal vocal snippets heavily stepped on with compressors to complete the out-of-body experience since I found myself without the power to stop bobbing my head or tapping my feet as the cut played out.

While perhaps not everybody’s cuppa for what some might dub “uneasy listening,” this album is full of endless ‘90s dancehall-inspired hits and guaranteed to push your hi-fi kit to the limit if you make judicious use of the volume attenuator and don’t have neighbors prone to pounding on floors or ceilings as you let your transducers flex and stretch to their excursion limits.

Highly Recommended.

track Listing

  • The Herbaliser - A Mother
  • Small World - Livin' Free
  • Tango - Spellbound
  • The Lab Rats - Give My Soul
  • Statik Sound System - Revolutionary Pilot
  • JMJ & Flytronix - In Too Deep
  • Aquasky - Kauna
  • James Bong - Never Say?
  • Hardfloor pres. Dadamnphreaknoizphunk? - Dubdope
  • Thievery Corporation - Shaolin Satellite
  • Kruder & Dorfmeister - High Noon
  • Beanfield - Keep On Believing
  • Sapien - Que Dolor
  • Shantel - Bass and Several Cars
  • Kama - Look Up Dere
  • Showroom Recordings - Radio Burning Chrome
  • Kruder & Dorfmeister - Black Baby (DJ-Kicks)
!K7 Records GmbH
55 Washington Street Suite 734 Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA

funambulistic's picture

I really enjoy Kruder and Dorfmeister's work. Though this release is excellent stuff, I would pick The K&D Sessions as my favorite of theirs and like even more, Kruder's Peace Orchestra (I would always get funny looks from hi-fi sales folk when auditioning equipment with this in hand). Dorfmeister's Tosca had some nice works as well.

What is unique with this duo's work is that it has aged very well and still sounds fresh - especially after sitting dormant in my collection for a few years. Thank you for the recommendation and inspiring me to go through their catalog once again!

pdxdon's picture

I have been wrestling with the concept of density lately. One of my favorite bands is The National, and most of their stuff is packed full of interesting sounds. You are right in that a better system is usually more adept at unraveling multiple threads. In fact, a great system lets me pay attention to all of it simultaneously, not just follow one thread. However, especially in The National's case, when it gets denser, the sound gets worse. The simpler bits are fine, but when it ratchets up, the sound goes south. I have plenty of headroom, 625 watts per channel with 95 db efficient speakers, so that is not the issue. Your thoughts?

Rafe Arnott's picture
What your issues could be stemming from without actually hearing your system.

Resolution is a key factor for delineation of vocals and instruments in a recording (IME) with a system and that starts with your source and goes on through every component and cable all the way to your transducers.

Everclear's picture

My 2 cents ........ You may have an IMD problem ........ If you are using a 2 driver book-shelf or even a floor stander, adding a separate subwoofer may help ........ Sometimes even a multi-driver floor stander could use the help of a separate subwoofer .........

pdxdon's picture

My system sounds fabulous with good to excellent recordings. I have PS Audio electronics, a Legacy Powerbloc2 amp, and Legacy Focus SE speakers with dual 12' woofers so bass is not an issue. I have heard albums where the sound is okay in the simpler parts but falls apart when it gets complex. Conversely, well recorded stuff of any complexity is great. I think recording quality and music quality are the biggest determinants of listening pleasure.

Everclear's picture

One of the suggestions I can make in your situation is, use of an external EQ/DSP add-on unit ........ There are many available on the market .......... An example is DEQX, which was favorably reviewed and listed under Class-A Stereophile ............

Everclear's picture

I forgot to mention .... Legacy also makes an external add-on EQ/DSP unit called Wave launch processor ........

pdxdon's picture


It is interesting you brought up room correction. Before I bought my BHK preamp, my alternative was the Wavelet from Legacy. It seemed like a vital part of the work Bill Duddleston of Legacy is focusing on. Plus one of my best audiophile buddies recently got a McIntosh MEN-220 which made a huge difference in his nightmare of a listening room. I think it can be a big help.

Everclear's picture

EQ/DSP can be an useful tool ......... EQ/DSP can be useful for both loudspeaker based systems, as well as headphones/IEMs based systems .............