- 7 Dunham Place, the debut album of Düsseldorf's Loco Dice and co-producer Martin Buttrich, feels a good distance removed creatively from their bleak-night 2006 M_nus hit, "Seeing Through Shadows." The first full-length on the duo's Desolat label, it's the result of a move to Brooklyn, New York, but it'd be a mistake to read too much into that geographical shift. Instead, the record finds the two creating the same warm, supple hometracks they nailed with 2006's Cadenza EP, Harissa.
Though there are several urban bound references to their brief American home—the lanky, slow-voiced hip of "Pimp Jackson is Talking Now!!!" or the clattering train passes of "M Train to Brooklyn"—7 Dunham Place isn't bound by regional sound in any traditional manner, using broad house trademarks like soulful vocal samples and jubilant jazz piano rolls as ground planks for Dice and Buttrich's finer brand of mesmerism. Besides the floor-fit swagger of "Tight Laces," Dunham Place trades pressing for peaceful, focusing on the momentary smear of all its parts over their sum. If there's an album from this year that's close kissing-cousins with Dice's, not as much in sound but in the weight it places on attention to minutiae, it's probably Move D and Benjamin Brunn's excellent Songs from the Beehive.
Layering vocal phrases and moans into a scope of sparse tones, finger-snaps, woodblocks and gentle emergent melodies, Loco Dice circumvents the constraints of "minimal" music much as Move D and Brunn did: by stretching songs so thin they almost give out under their own scattered parts, while infusing ever-evolving textures and the subtlest euphonic elements (check "How Do I Know?!" for a good feel of just how long he can dole out blacks and greys before measuring in some color). He gives the simplest components a lushness and expanse belied by their starkness. But the tracks on 7 Dunham Place each flow with such elasticity it's hard to not to admire the athleticism in Dice's constraint as a producer.
"Consequently Eccentric and Delicate" and "Black Truffles in the Snow" are both perfectly titled, but more importantly, they get at this sly way with 'song' at which Dice and Buttrich excel. Out of their finespun structures suddenly appear sinewy synth patterns that center their more crystalline moments and give the tracks a sense of evolution, however sluggish. "Got Leaks in the Roof" is just as crafty in how it filters in its light, lacing its simple beat with a synth pattern that hovers more than it glides. But it's on "M Train to Brooklyn" where Loco Dice really smudges the edges, dropping glinting bell tones against dim sub-bass and the distant crowd sounds of a night-full bar. As sirens peal and trains pass, it's so surface-pretty it seems to leave itself vulnerable to the rush of the very city Dice and Buttrich adopted for 7 Dunham Place. But Loco Dice makes the listener a casual observer of this frenetic place that's suddenly lost its frenzy, time-slowed and almost still for so much depth.
01. Breakfast at Nina's
02. How Do I Know?!
03. Consequently Excentric and Delicate
04. Black Truffles in the Snow
05. La Esquina
06. Tight Laces
07. Got Leaks in the Roof
08. Pimp Jackson Is Talkin Now!!!
09. M Train to Brooklyn