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Efdemin, "Efdemin"

Rubbernecking forum jockeys and slobbering music reviewers alike have all but hailed this record as all but the Second Coming of Techno, with many hastily adding it to their "Best of 2007" lists. For all of its bandwagon hype and post-Detroit sleekness, this self-titled full-length comes off remarkably good but not astonishingly great.

 

Dial

Dispensed in both CD and double LP formats, Phillip Sollman's first album as Efdemin makes frequent, almost casual references to early naughties Force Tracks tech-house as often as more recent Kompakt electronic dance music.  Working capably within a manifestly derivative style, Sollman eagerly inches his way towards grand peaks and windswept valleys on "Lohn & Brot." Tracks like "Back To School" are meant to lift the spirits on the dancefloor, utilizing emotive layered sounds replete with carefully crafted hooks.  It is abundantly clear how much Sollman adores melody; when trying his hand at asceticism, as with the bleak "Stately, Yes," he can hardly resist nearly four minutes in to let rays of sparkling light burst through.  The slowing metamorphosing "Bergwein" adds some of that old school Artificial Intelligence warmth into the mix, while "April Fools" disrupts its own sense of calm with pinprick percussion, militantly rigid stabs, and camera shutter snares.

Founded by a trio of well-regarded producers, Dial rightfully earns considerable respect from anyone following minimal techno and house.  Since 2000, the label has output a fair number of memorable releases on vinyl and compact disc, among these one of my favorite albums of the last few years: Pantha Du Prince's superlative Diamond Daze.  Fans of that record, his recent follow-up, and the rest of Dial's roster will assuredly find plenty to like in this project, as will those who still romanticize tech-house’s past.  Those hoping for a progression worthy of the attention presently being paid to this album, however, will likely find that it's hardly the brilliant masterpiece it's been previously been chalked up as.

 

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Tara Jane O'Neil

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Review of the Day

"No Watches, No Maps"
While the Fat Cat people boast about their committment to introducing fresh new artists, they've played the game relatively safe for their entire existence. A successful record label has to establish themselves pretty much before they can make bold moves like this one, releasing a CD comprised entirely of demos received by the label from complete unknowns. Fat Cat established themselves by releasing an assortment of buzzworthy 12" split singles, sneaking in a relatively unknown act on one side with an established act on the other side. In sales it's called the "foot in the door technique" — now that we've got your attention, try this! The label's intentions are well and this technique sure paid off.
Conceived over two years ago, this collection gathers 74 minutes of people you most likely have never heard of, many of which will probably not surface again. While Fat Cat have pointed out that they love all of these songs, limitations of the label have only allowed them time, budget and manpower to do full releases of a couple, two of which Com.A and Duplo Remote have tracks appearing here. The collection is surprisingly impressive, starting off with the brief abrasive noise of QT?, continuing on with glitch electronica Autechre worshipping sound of Phluidbox, the sci-fi death theme sounds from Jetone and pentatonic Asian taste of Zooey. By the time it reaches the slick production of the instrumental Fridge-ish jam, Ukiyo-E's "Val Doonican," the grand scope of the collection is shifted, transforming it from a collection of random electronics to something more. At this point, the compilation of unknowns begins to strangely mirror a well-constructed soundtrack or an 80s-era cassette-only comp. Changes continue when the pounding abrasive head nodding track from Moneyshot bursts in, a melancholy piano piece from Beans arrives a few tracks later, followed by more electronic and organic contributions including the gorgeous low-tempo submission from Cytokine.
While each of the 19 songs on here are quality work, it's easy to tell that all of these artists are still in the infancy of their careers, with much more to learn about originality, composition and production. Much like releases like the "Rising from the Red Sand" comps for example, I'm predicting this disc will become one of those collectable references on discographies popping up years from now. On the horizon for the label is a section on their website with exchanges of music like this and hopefully more collections.

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