- Back when he was pressing up 12-inches on his Aleph Music label in 2010, Berlin's Ralf Schmidt was one of my favourite house producers. His Aera tracks were lighthearted and psychedelic, full of vibrant, splattered colours and bouncy drum beats. After releasing his debut album in 2013, Schmidt seemed to drop off the map, before reappearing last year with a solid turn on Maeve. Now he appears on Innervisions, a significant move, presenting his most polished music yet.
Running Hot is a logical progression for Schmidt. It's streamlined, almost minimalist compared to his early work, but what's left is as fluorescent as ever. "Krystal Close" is a prime example: everything feels intricately arranged and purposeful, but the hollow, '90s-sourced synths and playful chords are standard Aera. The title track is based around the kind of earwormy bassline that DJs like Dixon love, and it builds naturally, melodies congealing into a squelchy lead that scribbles in thick lines. "Odessa Step Sequence" dips into straight-up techno, and Schmidt sneaks in some colour with synths that shine like light reflecting off chrome.
"Keeping The Book" is Running Hot's biggest success, mainly because it sounds like Schmidt making the Innervisions anthem he's always had in him. With its squeaky, slippery leads and dubby bassline, the track is slick but textural, totally addictive as it wiggles its way through six minutes. Remixing the track, Steve Rachmad makes his own Innervisions debut with an effort that nearly matches up to Schmidt's. His "Version 1" is an effortless techno makeover that transplants Schmidt's killer lead into a more steely framework, letting it bubble and squeak in a whole new context. "Version 2" has a slower, shuffling feel, with downcast synth lines offering a tinge of Innervisions-style melancholy to an otherwise upbeat EP. Aera, Rachmad and Innervisions all draw the best out of each other on Running Hot, which is among the label's finest records in some time.
A1 Running Hot
A2 Krystal Close
B1 Keeping The Book
B2 Odessa Step Sequence
C1 Keeping The Book (Steve Rachmad Version 1)
D1 Keeping The Book (Steve Rachmad Version 2)