- Intacto's first full-length gathers old and new tracks by a key duo from the active Dutch minimal techno scene. Both the artist name and album title are quintessential components of David Labeij and Lauhaus's native Holland. A polder is a tract of low-lying land enclosed by dikes to keep the water out. The country is literally made of polders, and it wouldn't exist without the manmade obstruction of water. As the saying goes, "God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands." Conveniently, dike-building is a fitting metaphor for composing minimal techno, as both acts are about maintaining a clean, even space where life can flourish and events can unfold. Polder's upbeat, tech-y grooves feel like they've been pared down not with reductivist zeal, but with a care for clearing out unnecessary sounds so that what remains can be fostered.
The "polder model" is Holland's famed political-economic policy of co-operation despite differences: it stresses patience and careful decision-making in order to reach a solution that benefits the largest number of parties. It's easy to imagine in this case that the album title thus refers to how the tracks were composed: with the intent of generating the most widespread satisfaction. As a whole the LP has that warmly engineered air, that mark of friendly sophistication that one associates with Dutch design in general; it's funky but not bombastic, minimal but not micro, hypnotic but not druggy. Chunky and chuggy, the Polder sound is unabrasive, compelling tech-house that seems to have had all its jagged edges sanded down to pleasing, rounded nubs—as would befit any project based on optimal appeal.
Among the standouts is the opener "Ginger," with clipped mini-congas that pebble endlessly while the groove gearshifts from bubbling minimal to house jack, the swells and fades steered by mild synth crescendos. "11th Floor" has a cheerful swagger highly appropriate for the sort of early-set slot that signals that casual warm-up time is over and that the party is officially underway. The heavy bangers are saved for the B and D-sides: "Frisky" relies on a crisp, dry front-mixed hat-snare pairing to propel some deep filtered-sample oscillations. Album closer "Bondage" has the most straight-ahead intensity of all: its house-y metallic hi-hats, distorted synth clang and wormy, acidic bass sound suddenly harsh after five tracks of relatively smoothed-out grooves.
One of the casualties of maximum consensus, however, can be innovation. Remember Orson Welles' sentiment from The Third Man: that for all its years of parliamentary harmony and marked avoidance of conflict, all Swiss culture had to show for itself was the cuckoo clock. Poldermodel is a very consistent LP, unafraid to wear its good-vibin', well-tailored beats with pride. But while it brims with tunes sure to put most of the dancefloor in a happy place, don't expect to get your wig flipped.
C1 11th Floor