- These days you can count the number of minimal producers breaking new ground on one hand, but the '90s were full of them. Few projects were more out there than Dimbiman, the production alias of Zip, AKA Thomas Franzmann, AKA part of the reason why the scene exists. Iso Grifo, reissued last month, is the Berlin-based artist's most sought-after record, a three-track 1998 EP released on Baby Ford's PAL SL during the fertile turn-of-the-century period that hosted timeless breakout releases from fellow Frankfurt-area artists like LoSoul, Isolée and Ricardo Villalobos. It's anyone's guess what Iso Grifo has to do with the Italian sports car referenced it its title, but it reflects Franzmann's experimental sound as a producer, which is more twisted than the lean house he spins these days would have you believe.
Even so, these tracks aren't dark. There's humour in the scraps of sampled vocals—"what you doin'?", blurp—that come and go, not least on "Lava," which shifts up a gear when the bassline is beefed up past the midpoint. The EP is full of these subtle shifts, where new elements enter the mix at random. You won't find any hints about "Iso Grifo"'s title in its opening monologue—it's in Finnish and mumbles about Christmas food. The track's mood, set by scratchy percussion, keys and hisses, switches from funky to introspective with a synth tone two thirds through—another crafty adjustment. "Round?"'s cosmic chug is the closest Iso Grifo gets to conventional techno, even with the stuttering middle section that strips away the melody.
Outside of Club Der Visionaere, Robert Johnson or Saturday afternoon Panorama Bar, there aren't many situations these tracks would suit—in fact, they would clear the dance floor in most clubs. But that's not the point. These are cutting-edge tunes that balance groove with experimentation, a reminder of the exciting roots behind the scene they helped inspire.
A1 Iso Grifo