- It's not a coincidence that DJ Healer's Nothing 2 Loose and Prime Minister Of Doom's Mudshadow Propaganda were announced on Easter Sunday. After all, they mark the resurrection of a beloved figure: the artist formerly known as Prince Of Denmark, DJ Metatron and Traumprinz. His return had been uncertain since last May, when he used his Planet Uterus SoundCloud account to make a cryptic statement announcing the end of Prince Of Denmark as well as his ten-year relationship with Giegling, who had released almost all of his music until then (and who, weeks later, were plunged into controversy when the label's cofounder, Konstantin, disparaged women DJs in an interview with Groove). It was silence from then on (save for another, clearer statement confirming his separation from Giegling) until a new mix in February signaled a possible comeback.
When the "announcement" finally came, it was comically discreet and loaded with symbolism: a track on SoundCloud called "Sell Out," with the sounds of Mario collecting coins and then dying; a link to an ASCII-designed website with the classic Game Over query ("Continue? yn"); a photograph of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (complete with a lemniscate); and, finally, a purchase page for two triple LPs from two new projects, each for the conspicuously reasonable price of around €20 before tax (a possible mea culpa for the €100 price tag on his last album, 8). Word got around quickly, and within hours people around the world were pulling out their credit cards to buy two albums by artists they'd never heard of from a strange website without audio clips—and on April 1st, no less. The preciousness of the situation did not go unobserved—if anything, it was embraced. "I think that's the whole point," one RA user said. "In this day and age, it's nice to know you can still have faith."
Faith plays a curious role in this music, especially DJ Healer's Nothing 2 Loose. This album continues in the vein of Traumprinz and DJ Metatron, where religion has been a recurring theme. In 2014, Traumprinz released "I Gave My Life," a deep house track built around a recording of a pastor explaining how he gave up drugs and found Jesus. DJ Metatron takes its name from the "angel of recordings" described in the Torah, and explores in its music a feeling rarely experienced in the secular world: spiritual transcendence.
Like those records, Nothing 2 Loose borrows from religion an emotional heavy-handedness that many listeners will find hard to accept. (I've personally heard the word "cringe" thrown around even among people who generally like it.) But that feeling, an utterly uncool pureness of sincerity, is essential to this music. Like the character in American Beauty who films the plastic bag drifting in the breeze, DJ Healer is hung up on the pained bliss of the sublime. That character's pivotal line—"sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in"—pretty much sums up much of the vibe of Nothing 2 Loose. The album is pure feels from front to back, its angelic vocoders and heavenly pads evoking pink sunrises and god rays over glittering oceans. Ambience is interspersed with sparing beats, some breaky and uplifting, others trembling and hypnotic. "This is God's creation," a girl intones on a track by that name. "It's absolutely amazing to look at it."
Most of the album's vocals are similarly weighty. "2 The Dark," a brooding sequel to DJ Metatron's "2 The Sky," uses fragments of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," at one point chopping down the line "That was there at my command" to the mournful "That was then." "The Interview" may be the album's most uplifting track, but it draws its intro from something haunting: Whitney Houston's 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, where she was forced to claim that she was neither addicted to drugs nor dying. The album's most intriguing vocal is on the final track, "Protectionspell," an ambient piece centered around a poem that seems to be original, its reader unknown—could this be the artist himself? Either way, it works as a personal statement from him, at times drawing from his own mythology. For instance, the opening line—"I remember the day I walked out of my lion's mother's cave"—echoes the title of the first Traumprinz album, Mothercave.
Of the two albums, Mudshadow Propaganda has proven to be the hotter commodity. At the time of writing, it's sold out and fetching high prices on Discogs, while DJ Healer is still available through all possible worlds. Even for someone who prefers DJ Healer (this reviewer included), it's easy to see why its counterpart would make such a splash. Prime Minister Of Doom is, naturally, a continuation of Prince Of Denmark, offering, as that project did, minimalist techno full of understated personality.
That's not to say the sound hasn't evolved. If 8 was all murk and shadows, this one is breezy and crystal clear, even housey at times. The drums are dry and clean, the arrangements tidy and effective, the rhythms pure drive from beginning to end. "Grand Finale," possibly the best of the bunch, is a head turner purely due to the strength of its groove. Each of the others has at least one distinguishing flourish: the titular hook on "Deep In Your Heart," the woody hand percussion on "Tribal Days Part II" and "Tribal Days Part III," the haunting steel drum on "Drumatise," the acid drips on "Truth Inside." "The Wai" is something else entirely, full of epic strings, diva wails and a quasi-religious vocal sample—"show me the way"—bringing some of DJ Healer's sense of epiphany.
In a way, though, it's in its dryer moments that Mudshadow Propaganda feels most accomplished. Nothing 2 Loose is a grand statement in which the artist lays himself bare. Mudshadow Propaganda is exactly the opposite: an exercise in design and utility, devoid of meaning but near-perfect in execution. That one artist could master such different modes of expression is as impressive as it is unusual, especially when you consider his rate of production—these six sides of vinyl arrive less than two years after this artist's last album, a three-hour, eight-record box set, and include none of the music on his recent "secret guest" mix. There's a line on "Protectionspell" that could explain this extraordinary rate of output. "Creation is the opposite of dying," the narrator whispers in his German accent. "This is what keeps me sane."
DJ Healer - Nothing 2 Loose
01. At Last (Becalming The Storm)
02. Great Escape
03. 2 The Dark
04. Gods Creation
06. Planet Lonely
07. Hopes And Fears
08. We Are Going Nowhere
09. The Interview
Prime Minister Of Doom - Mudshadow Propaganda
01. Getting Things Started
02. Tribal Days Part II
03. Tribal Days Part III
04. The Vibe
06. Grand Finale
07. Deep In Your Heart
08. Truth Inside
09. Truth Inside Of Me (Skit)
10. The Wai