- The disco-house master struggles to adjust to the LP format.
- In 2019, disco-house has rarely been more popular. New edits of old tracks are as abundant as ever, largely sticking to the same formulas on which both disco and house were built. Some of the most popular anthems of the past few years, from Midland's "Final Credits" to Denis Sulta's "L & S (You Mean Everything Mix)," have been built around disco samples, while DJs like Motor City Drum Ensemble and Jayda G command headline slots and huge crowds with disco-centric sets. There is a lot of club music released today tapping into a sound that first emerged in the 1970s.
Frank Timm has helped set the standard for the disco-house sound. His Sound Stream 12-inches, which he's released every few years since 1999, boil down cult disco cuts to their fundamentals. The best licks get looped up and run through artful filter sweeps, coolly arranged to gently rise and fall. Though some tracks have sharper spikes in energy, it's the steely focus of his editing style that makes Timm's approach stand out. In the linear, almost mechanical flow of his tracks, Timm gives the music a techno-like momentum. Part of the reason Sound Stream tracks are so well loved is because they're precision engineered to mix well and do the damage in the dance.
Love Remedy, arriving four years after the last Sound Stream 12-inch, is billed as an album, but you may as well consider it a pair of EPs. The title track is one of several standouts. It's hard to resist "Love Remedy" once its filter snaps down and the drums pump through a thick wad of compression. "Get Down" comes in full force with tough drums and range of classic samples. Timm throws the Philly strings around, cheekily stutters them here and there, and lets rip with the full drop at regular intervals. The one-chord piano stab has the same infectious loop that makes David Morales's "Needin' U" and many other piano house classics so addictive. It's unabashed joy, and everything a pure disco edit should be.
"Disco Advisor" harks back to the classic Smith N Hack remix of Herbert's "Moving Like A Train"—produced by Timm and Errorsmith—though it falls short of that track's wild peaks. In fact, Love Remedy rarely reaches those heights, and a couple of tracks are underwhelming. "Right Track" chugs along dutifully and unmemorably. "Flash Back" does a better job of riding its loop, but peters out without much of a payoff.
By the time "Spotlight" struts to life on another big orchestral lick, the album's formula begins to get repetitive. Some of the sparkle of Timm's best output is also missing. There's nothing quite as audacious here as, say, "Julie's Theme" or "Love Jam." "Mercury Mood" uses nagging synths and woozy pads to explore a deep house feel, but I had hoped Timm would take a few more risks with his style on an album.
Love Remedy ends on a high. The drums and bass are so dirty on "Doctor Loop" that it made me check for fluff on the needle, and then consider the possibility of a mastering error. But the difference in the sound palette is refreshing, aligning the track with the gritty sample-based house of DJ Nature's early '90s work as Nature Boy. That this rugged jam is followed by a brief, inconsequential disco loop that closes the LP only brings the album's shortcomings back into focus. Love Remedy may have been better condensed to a single EP, a format that has served Timm's music so well over the years.
01. Love Remedy
02. Right Track
03. Mercury Mood
04. Flash Back
05. Get Down
06. Disco Advisor
08. Doctor Loop