- In the course of only a handful of releases, culminating in a certain dance floor nuke on Cadenza called "La Mezcla," Michel Cleis has gained enough good credit to have his output worth peeping on name alone. He's refined a kind of whirling, up-tempo Amazonian house that emphasizes layers of driving drum-circle percussion, jacking into that South-American/Euro hybrid-dialect which continues to yield so many sonic delights. Except in a geographical twist, Cleis hails from Switzerland, not Santiago.
Of course it's tempting to understand this intercontinental exchange as a simple synthesis of different styles, but there's another way of looking at as well: the German poet Friedrich Hoelderlin, for example, urged his artistic contemporaries to look towards ancient Greece, not in order just to get inspired by what the Greeks were better at, but in order to encounter their own German nature, which lay hidden until its energies were to be ignited by a passage through foreign territory. To Hoelderlin the Germans excelled at "clarity of presentation," but needed to engage with the ancient Greeks in order to make manifest their passions, the "fires from heaven" that abound in Greek art. In this context it's not hard to see that just as Luciano, Ricardo and others have shown that minimal beats aren't solely a European thing, Cleis' jams are testament that you don't have to hail from South America to bring the holy fire.
"Red Tape" starts with plenty of sampled hand-drum clatter and a breezy, Orbital-style high-pitched vocal sliver, then suddenly bursts into overdrive with a rugged kick, keeping a sunny relentless throb punctuated by cowbell triplet-plonk. It's an irresistibly energetic track that doesn't take a lot of risks because it doesn't have to, its friendly, muscular groove easily rides out the near-nine minutes without flagging or needing a booster shot.
Then, if you're checking it on digital you may forget that "Dark Glasses" is actually the B-side—although it is more spaced-out, as usually befits a b-side, it's still as engaging and peppy as its counterpart, a flurry of rattlesnake shakes and buzzbin bounce. It's a dense and whirling thicket, achieved thanks to a spectacular knack for playing the stereo field—main elements pop pleasingly upfront while all manner of ambient ornaments rumble and twitter in the murky distance. Ah, and there's another Latiny vocal lurking there in the sylvan shadow, not a blood-boiler like the diva on "La Mezcla," but more haunting. "Dark Glasses" is perhaps the more inventive and thus rewarding of the pair, full of twists and turns, a raging peyote headspin. But then that's the 12-inch formula—you gotta take 'em to forest edge before you plunge into the wild.
A Red Tape
B Dark Glasses