- For Danish producer Rune Reilly Kölsch, it's never too early to go big. 1977's opening salvo, "Goldfisch," is a stadium-ready anthem which brooks no argument. How do you follow that? By keeping it massive. The tone may vary, but 1977 is never less than huge.
The press sheet talks about 1977 potentially appealing to "the mainstream EDM elite" (whoever that might be). Given how brash it is—not to mention Kölsch's previous chart success as Rune RK and Enur—the album could be highly divisive. Kompakt fans who have enjoyed the label's quirky way of flirting with pop may view it as too much—a cynical bid for mainstream success. But is it? Dance music can be big, dumb and brilliant. Kompakt has never shied away from that, and Kölsch's hit-rate here is a respectable 50:50. Shuttling between noisy Ed Banger electro and crystalline trance, "Opa," "Zig" and "Basshund" are basic festival DJ tools. There's also a rather dreary, button-pushing populism to the dewy-eyed emotion of "All That Matters" (think: a neutered Depeche Mode), or the hackneyed Chicago house strings and pianos on "Der Alte." Elsewhere, though, on the magnificent "Goldfisch," "Eiswinter" and "Wasserschutz," there are flashes of real genius.
A cerebral justification of Kölsch's work might point out how his music is laced with strange detail. "Goldfisch," for instance, is interrupted by an ear-piercing squeak that sounds like a metal chair scraping on a marble floor. That, however, is beside the point. A trance track like "Oma"—elegant, anthemic, deeply uncool—isn't brilliant because of its small production quirks. It's brilliant because, at times, Kölsch exhibits a transcendent, irresistible melodic gift. There are lots of terrible records in that style, and if "Oma" ends up soundtracking a big, sentimental mobile phone ad on TV, we may all come to hate it. But for now, it's spine-tingling. As a character in Noel Coward's Private Lives once put it: "It's extraordinary how potent cheap music is."
04. Der Alte
05. All That Matters