- Whereas many recent European techno-house hybrids get dismissed as fashionable homage buffed to a cool shine, the records Workshop has pressed for the past two-and-a-half years couldn't sound less bright, chic or flashy. Rarely hinting at age or affiliations, Workshop suggests gems discovered in a dusty crate in the back of the shop—despite increasing buzz, despite a catalog boasting material from Move D, Lowtec and Sascha Dive, despite steady distribution through Hardwax and despite easy digital availability. Sure, it could be the weathered, almost lo-fi haziness that hovers over many of the tracks, or the rubber-stamped non-sequitur label art, but I think it's more than that. Although every Workshop track to date sounds carefully labored-over, they also come off as music made to play for friends and colleagues. It's this hausgemacht, from-my-bedroom-to-yours intimacy that is, for me, at the heart of the lasting Workshop mystique.
Even Tuell turns in the latest installment in the series, and perhaps the most timely sounding the label has yet produced. It starts with an eerie track threaded with a clockwork vocal sample (simply "Detroit," uttered offhandedly in an accent that has nothing to do with Michigan). Initially it comes off as spare, somber Clone old school, but the tone warms substantially with the addition of a few more layers until it's weaving brisk house. On the flipside, a twisted keyboard loop plods forward ominously, overpowering every sweet floating melody that threatens a sun break through the record's dark clouds. It's perhaps the most adventurous track here, but is ultimately eclipsed by the chillingly sinister finale, in which only a few pensive plucks of guitar manage to be heard over the cracking handclaps and deep throb of moody synths.
We've not heard much from Even Tuell, AKA Paul David Rollmann, one of Workshop's heads. Recently he contributed a slithering snake of a track to the label's fourth record, which then found its way onto both Âme's Fabric and Matthew Dear's Body Language mixes. This new set follows that track's shadowy trail, and arguably overtakes it.