Stimming - Reflections

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  • In medical circles "stimming" is slang for a kind of sterotypy, a jerky, repetitive gesture common to sufferers of autism. It's an ideal referent for the work of Martin Stimming, whose spiky tech-house hybrids twist and buckle like a pleasant form of seizure. There's nothing particularly novel about this kind of house—folks at Perlon and Playhouse have been doing it for years—but Stimming lures you in with a lithe grace that is distinctively welcoming. Like Trapez too, there's a lot of buzz and scatter, but it's cleverly crafted and put to clearly functional ends, servicing the needs of the ship-shape labels he records for: Buzzin' Fly, Liebe Detail and Diynamic. There's nary a dip in Stimming's young discography, and his debut long-player is similarly high on quality, and yet, as with so many techno long players, Reflections feels stretched. It certainly offers a consistent statement, each track uniquely Stimming, thus achieving one of the demands of the album format, but it is also same-y, repetitive, limited. Ten or so likeminded house tracks, even good ones, by the one artist, in one sitting, is a lot to ask. Try it out, however, and there's plenty to enjoy. Opener "Sunday Morning" seems to set the tone only for the ground to give way, the familiar hip-swinging shimmy collapsing in a wreck of red herring trance chords. Red herrings they remain, however, and by the following "After Eight" we're back on track, which is no bad thing: stuttered gasps, clipped percussion, jazzy Latin hints and, like his monster hit "Una Pena," insistent, effortless groove. Here we stay, with minor variations: "Silver Surfer" reels in a berimbau twang; spectral piano notes tumble around "One Weekend"; and "The Beauty," the clear highlight, is all emotion, quivering synths toying with the heartstrings. Only "The Loneliness" offers something of a departure, the vocals foregrounded amidst doleful harmonica and the usual skiffle. As individual tracks, then, there's much to admire here, but en masse the effect is dimmed, overuse revealing shortcomings in even his outstanding qualities. Stimming's clap, a brilliant device, real and stinging like a crowd around a campfire, is as recognizable as Melchoir's hats, but after so many appearances this too wears thin. In its focus on coherence Reflections starts to undo itself, revealing more faults with the format than with the artist who, by the evidence displayed here, produces much better house than most.
  • Tracklist
      01. Sunday Morning 02. After Eight 03. Song for Isabelle 04. Fruits of Life 05. Silver Surfer 06. One Weekend 07. The Loneliness 08. Tel Aviv Calling 09. The Beauty 10. Sleep On 11. The Kiss