Matthias Tanzmann - Restless

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  • Perhaps more than any other electronic genre, deep house has the ability to enthrall and bore in equal measure. Good deep house makes you wish you were doing 120 in a BMW on an empty autobahn. Bad deep house sends you to sleep at the wheel. Now I do mean this quite literally—I actually worked out this theory six years ago after waking up crashed into a removal van at a bend in a motorway in Denmark. I’d been listening to a Ludovic Navarre album (Although I must say the album as a whole was actually quite good. It was just a few dodgy tracks on CD2 that did the trick if memory serves.) This then, brings us to Matthias Tanzmann and his debut long player Restless, on which Tanzmann seems hell bent on making both good and bad deep house. This is a shame because in other respects, Restless is quite an attractive package. It’s a timely debut, arriving after years of 12-inches from Tanzmann, right at the moment when the Moon Harbour take on the genre has been enjoying a resurgence. It also is nicely formatted, available as both a 2x12" vinyl pack and on CD, the latter of which comes as a mix, as is seemingly de rigueur these days. Listening to the CD is like drifting in and out of drowsiness. The first three tracks breeze by without so much as a whimper, and while it isn't in any way bad, it isn't in any way good either. This is the kind of deep house you play in your car stereo at your own peril. Not until 'Procon', six tracks in, do we get that 120 in a BMW feeling, and when it comes it is very good. The track makes effective use of an offbeat tom and repeated rimshots, a bit like Matt John, but the star here is the sweeping synth which goes from down low to up high and back again, each pass revealing a subtle detune effect to the observant ear. From this midpoint, Tanzmann seems intent on alternating the good with the bad as if to keep you on your toes. 'Bulldozer' will be familiar to Steve Bug fans as one of the stand out tracks on Bugnology 2, and it still sounds good here. 'Nip Slip', perhaps Tanzmann's best production to date, uses a synth that sounds so wet you can practically hear it to stab your ear for a full five minutes (think a more subtle version of Rune & Sydenham's 'Elephant'). 'Hotel Sapporo' is nice, too, taking the mix gradually downtempo again very appropriately. Such a shame then that the tracks around these standouts don't cut the mustard. (One gets the feeling that this played a significant part in the decision to mix everything together, as by themselves these tracks would, quite frankly, have made excellent background music for a hypnotherapy tape.) Overall then, Restless is a good example of what happens when a good 12-inch artist makes the move to LP—some very good tracks surrounded by a lot of filler. As if to prove the point, the best tracks here are cut from previous 12-inch releases, and hence aren't included on the vinyl. So if you must, go digital. But don't listen and drive.
  • Tracklist
      01 Swim 02 Flight Mode 03 Kutaisi 04 Redirected 05 Keep On 06 Procon 07 Crazy Circus 08 Bulldozer 09 Nip Slip 10 Rugby 11 Hotel Sapporo 12 Love-Shaped Feeling 13 Still Like It Like That