- Tristen, whose "Along These Strings" appeared last year on Oskar Offermann's WHITE label, gives a little back with the first release on his new vinyl imprint, Aim. Both tracks are by Offermann and fellow Berliner Moomin, whom Offermann describes as an old friend from his hip-hop days, saying, "we kinda had that spirit in mind when we produced these tracks." That may be slightly misleading: both of these tunes are deep, brooding house music. No breakbeats, no Four Elements, no Fast Eddie rapping—just crisp drum machines and murky chords jacking along at a textbook 120 BPM.
But it's also not a stretch to hear a hip-hop influence in "Hardmood," particularly in the way they layer almost imperceptible soul samples— filtered and massaged into a kind of opalescent blob that glows deep in the mix—with muted vocal loops and demure, complementary leads. It's a little like a cleaner version of Benny Blanko's early '00s records for Playhouse, with 909s in place of broken beats. Counteracting the smoothness, the hi-hats have been mixed almost uncomfortably loud, but I think that's the point: between them and the equally biting handclaps, this track is all about presence, no matter how dreamy it might seem.
"Joe MacDaddy" begins even tougher, with searing hi-hats and a hard, stubby bassline, but resonant, pulsing string loops take the edge off as they swell to fill the spaces in between. Where "Hardmood" followed an almost jaunty four-bar chord progression, "Joe MacDaddy" rests its weight on a single pedal tone, lulling you into a ruminative state. So it comes as a surprise when a voice breaks in, saying, "Listen to the lyrics..." The phrase repeats, and then the beats fall away, leaving just Rhodes and ride cymbal running free. There's an extended spoken-word passage that's hard to make out, and then, without drama, the beat kicks back in and we're eased out the door. In structure and mood alike, it's not a particularly radical track—it's almost a tool, albeit harmonically richer and fuller. But like all well-made tools, it serves its purpose with elegant simplicity.
B Joe MacDaddy