- The neo-minimal scene associated with Berlin's Club Der Visionaere and obscure vinyl has supplied plenty of great singles and DJ sets, but not many albums. Only a handful—Treatment's LP, Spacetravel's Dancing Therapy, a couple full-lengths on Les Points—have made it onto wax, as producers split their time between making beats and trawling Discogs for '90s techno, electro and tech house. The scene's latest album comes from one of its founding collectives, Frankfurt's HardWorkSoftDrink. Operating since 2012, this eight-person crew specialises in a psychedelic and broken minimal sound, usually supplied by in-house producers. Two of them, Cédric Dekowski and Felix Reifenberg, get together for L'Albüm, a triple-vinyl set that captures the best of their sound.
Aside from the work of a few Berlin-based acts, the most interesting minimal music is being made outside Europe's top clubbing centres. Artists from the Frankfurt area, which is also home to crews like Traffic, Pager Records and Gosu, inject rich melody into streamlined tracks, which give them a charisma not present in tougher tunes. The same goes for L'Albüm, where melody entwines with oddball sounds. On "Track34," whistling synths run against a hip-hop vocal on the right side of kitsch, while the intense shuffle of "Katushka"s percussion is punctuated by bird calls. "The North"—not much more than a cowbell, heavily swinging drums and a droning bassline—is the LP's top party rocker. There's a wacky streak running through L'Albüm, where slick drums are paired with sounds cooked up by a pair seemingly having fun.
But there are moments of seriousness. "Macright," the only track given a full side of vinyl, has the most moving parts. A synth hums underneath ascending chords while a bassline zaps and percussion pans from side-to-side. The bleeps turn musical, especially when they're piled on after a snazzy breakdown at the track's midpoint. Like the rest of L'Albüm, this is hypnotic music with a special charm.
06. The North