- Roman Flügel's music defies pigeonholing. Since the early '90s, his recordings have glimmered with an almost neurotic attention to detail and an elegant touch with melody, which has allowed him to maintain relevance amidst whatever genre was currently in vogue. With the curious manner in which his pointillist sounds coalesce into graceful forms, any headphone experience with his best productions is a leap down the musical rabbit-hole.
In 2011, Flügel released Fatty Folders, an album characterized by a noted lack of formulaic pursuits, shuffling from elegant house like "How To Spread Lies" and "Song With Blue" to gorgeous nu-kosmische like "Krautus" or the acidic squalls and simmering heat of "The Improvisor." Now Flügel returns with Happiness Is Happening and—surprise, surprise—the album finds him once again deconstructing and reconfiguring house, techno and the lighter pop tones of '90s electronica into brainy, often hypnotic hybrids that both soothe and transplant the listener.
On close inspection, it's almost distracting how much is slithering and slinking beneath the steady pulse of each track. Opener "Connecting The Ghost" is a staggering bit of ambient, its soft, blurry drones offsetting an insistent, industrial churn. "Your War Is Over" is more hectic, with deep synths throbbing against a twitchy beat and off-kilter video-game bleeps. Weirdly unhinged blurts of synthetic noise are scattered across "Parade." With its airy synth-gurgle, "We Have A Nice Life" sounds like it was designed for the Pop Ambient series until it slowly shrugs itself to life. "All That Matters" drifts and bobs in currents of slow, warbling tones and translucent pads.
And yet, across this ever-transforming musical landscape, you always feel escorted along by an expert guide. The sequencing is superb. For such a genre-defying album, Happiness Is Happening is a work of impressive coherence, and of an artist, some 20 years into his career, still very much at the peak of his powers.
01. Connecting The Ghost
02. Friendship Song
04. Your War Is Over
06. Tense Times
08. We Have A Nice Life
09. Occult Levitation
10. All That Matters