Cosmo Galactic Prism
n a market full of Late Night Tales, Back to Mine’s, DJ-Kicks, etc., it’s becoming more and more tiresome to listen to DJ mix compilations. Sure, people are probably interested in hearing their favorite artists spin an eclectic mélange of records, but these things are starting to feel more like dick-measuring contests and less like, you know, artistic statements. Cue inebriated, sweaty kid shouting, “Wow! Was that just Cam’Ron? Rapping over “I Want You Back”? THAT’S CUH-RAZY!” Sure, I’m likely also guilty of saying it a million times, but that’s also why the thrills of a Hollertronix mix or an As Heard on Radio Soulwax have diminished. But hey, if you’re cutting up coke with your dad’s credit card in the men’s room, I’m sure ten seconds per song of one thousand different records sounds pretty awesome; it probably even makes you feel sexy. But watch out kiddos! That’s no aphrodisiac, it’s a vodka cranberry with a dash of Rohypnol, and that bloodstain on the stall just spurted out of your forehead as you crashed against it.
Prins Thomas hates roofies. He loves the chase too much. Drugs are for cheaters, so dude’s gotta do it au naturale, and Thomas, tired of playing wingman to the crafty Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, he of last year’s majestic It’s a Feedelity Affair, is ready for his chance to try his hand at seduction. Which is precisely what Cosmo Galactic Prism Mix does: it lures you in with strange, oozing come-ons, coaxes you into trying things that might normally make you squeamish, and then works on you slowly until you suddenly find yourself spent, bleary-eyed, confused, and then you realize you’ve just been fucked by Prins Thomas.
You want to know when it happens? It’s somewhere in the middle of disc two, beginning with the Isolée remix of Recloose’s “Cardiology,” a slinky mid-tempo microhouse number with muffled snares, ebbing synths, distant wails, and some soulful cats pleading with you to “keep on movin.’” Now you realize what the deal is—that champagne isn’t there as a present—so you get up to leave, but then Prins gets serious, sensitive. He drops the lush, melancholy IDM of Closer Musik’s “Maria,” telling you, baby, he’s never felt this way. You realize you’ve never felt this way, and then you hear Zombi’s “Sapphire” on the hi-fi—a dramatic, eight-minute progressive synth-pop number that builds and layers, peaking at about the six-minute mark when a web of emblazoned, powerful keyboards dance with each other, imitating coitus so flawlessly you laugh—and then it’s over.
Jokes aside, and I ain’t kidding, those keyboards on “Sapphire” are more than just a dynamic ploy, they serve a purpose that is sorely lacking from most contemporary DJ mixes: a payoff. Cosmo Galactic Prism Mix is somewhat of a trudge, taking up all one hundred-sixty minutes of its two discs, but that’s also why it works. Thomas knows how to build a mood by steadily increasing and decreasing the pace, seamlessly mixing tracks into one another yet giving each its due respect by allowing them to play out to their full length.
In Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, there’s a passage where Vince Aletti, writing for the Village Voice, is describing the experience of hearing David Mancuso play records, saying, “Dancing at the Loft was like riding waves of music, being carried along as one song after another built relentlessly to a brilliant crest and broke, bringing almost involuntary shouts of approval from the crowd, then smoothed out, softened, and slowly began welling up to another peak.” This begs the question: why aren’t more DJs doing this? What happened to the idea of a DJ being the helmsman of a ship, taking its passengers on a journey?
Which is why the “cosmos,” the “galactic” theme of Cosmo Galactic Prism Mix is so apropos. It carries you along, letting you either play it in the background or listen to it closely, entrancing you in its hypnotic rhythms, allowing you to join in whenever you choose. The democracy of space, its freedom, translates directly to the mix itself.
Then there’s the music, wherein the notion of “space” isn’t towards the educatory stance of textbooks and planetariums, even though it is youthful. It’s “Star Trek,” “The Jetsons,” fuzzy aliens and strange B-movie soundtracks, where the Muppet-funk of Holger Czukay (“Cool in the Pool”), the only danceable Boards of Canada track ever (“Nlogax”), classic disco (The Paper Dolls’ “Get Down Boy”), and even pseudo-Jock Jams (Axer’s “123”) can be bookended by Joe Meek and Parliament without sounding pretentious. How? Thomas makes each song on Cosmo Galactic Prism Mix serve a specific, expertly devised purpose, nodding to the past, looking towards the future, and standing firmly on the ground even as he reaches for the stars.