- Roman Flügel is one of the most accomplished producers in dance music, with a discography that spans decades, styles and moods, and an approach to composition and sound design you wouldn't confuse with anyone else's. That's made for some consistently fresh and vital music, and for long past the point when lesser producers would have mellowed out or hung up their MIDI cables completely. So Monday Brain, Flügel's new double-EP for Hypercolour, comes as a surprise—it's the rare example of Flügel sounding well off his game.
Monday Brain is still packed with expertly crafted sounds and an aesthetic sensibility no one else is likely to deliver. It's all just a little lifeless. Opener "Teenage Engineering," adorned in pitched percussion and twinkling piano notes, exemplifies the problem. The track sounds amazing, but in the ample space of the airy mixdown you can feel the composition's chilliness.
Others feature kernels of good ideas that never sprout into full-fledged tunes. "Make It Happen" is anchored by a finely crafted and wonderfully weird pad roughed up by scratchy noise, but it's hitched to a loping bassline that leads nowhere. "Church Of Dork," a low-impact drum workout, feels like one long introduction punctuated by a breakdown of sorts—the bassline drops out for a minute, the drums continue apace, and then the bassline returns, meek and unchanged. You might say that Flügel is engaging in a bit of minimalism, but that would imply the paucity of elements have an outsized impact on the whole. In the absence of an appealing form to hang onto—think Flügel's excellent Sliced Africa EP from earlier this year, which employed similar bits to excellent effect—these sounds are just lost.
The final two tracks go some way toward redeeming Monday Brain. With an IDM-reminiscent countermelody playing against Flügel's signature zappy bell, "Picnic For Players" actually sounds complete. "Vegetarian Leather Jackets" is hording an entire EP's worth of production tricks. Heaving with melodically incongruous squiggles, a propulsive low-end and unstoppable cymbal hits, it feels bold, even a little dangerous. Coming on the back of an otherwise bum release, it's a relief to hear Flügel's still got it.
A1 Teenage Engineering
B1 Make It Happen
B2 Man Sees The Face, God Sees The Heart
C1 Church Of Dork
C2 Picnic For Players
D1 Vegetarian Leather Jackets