Tobi Neumann – Flieder Lieder

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  • Tobi Neumann is cool. He has one of those arty-sounding German names and you imagine him living in a pristine/bohemian Berlin apartment and spending his life getting wasted in a vaguely cerebral way at afterhours parties. Musically he has a strong, if schizophrenic, pedigree. Back in the day he produced and remixed many of the biggest names in electroclash (Peaches, Chicks on Speed, Miss Kittin to name a few), but these days his DJ mixes and more recent remixes have veered towards a brainy minimalism that has attracted a fervent internet following and led to the bandying about of words like ‘seminal’. ‘Flieder Lieder’ follows the stylistic template of last year’s ‘Pass Your Bedtime’ mix. There are all of the sonic tics and tells of modern German techno, but one hesitates to fully call it ‘minimal’ because of the chunkiness and immediacy of the tracks. The mix is built on a framework of solid, heavy, chunky drums, the kind you can hear in your gut from a block away when approaching a club, spiced with a pick ‘n mix of different strategies to engage the listener in that underlying physical pulse. They range from the melancholy, soul-tinted vocals of Cassy’s ‘Night to Remember’ to the pelvic grind of Samim and Michel’s ‘Exercise’ and from thence to the familiar trippy sounds of Anja Schneider and Sebo K’s ‘Rancho Relaxo’. This tacking back and forth between different styles doesn’t come across as bitty, but neither does it quite seem coherent. There is definitely a great selection of tracks here, with highlights such as the acidic fervour of Tobias’ ‘Street Knowledge’, the dubby tribalism of Femi Kuti mixed into Luciano & Melchior’s ‘Father’ as well as the peak of the set – the pairing of DJ Yellow’s much overlooked ‘Goddess’ with Dinky’s ‘Home on a Sunday’. Ultimately this mix is a great sampler of some of this year’s most distinctive musical moments (within the realms of ‘minimal’ house and techno), but it’s a difficult mix to fall in love with as it lacks a coherent thrust or direction. I don’t get absorbed in its flow, rather I wait for the next track I like to appear, never quite reaching that ‘I want to be in a club NOW’ feeling that the best mixes can conjure.