- Is it coincidence that Christopher's Rau Asper Clouds begins with a yawn? The Hamburg producer's house music is remarkably laidback, the conflicted product of a probable pothead with a definite affinity for a 4/4 beat. It's wispy, but purposefully so. You get the sense that Rau and Move D—if they haven't met already—would probably get along famously. And like Move D's work, it's often hard to get a true handle on without the help of a good pair of headphones. Yeah, the beat is there to guide you along, but there's plenty of stuff going on underneath that's worth exploring.
"Always the Same," for instance, has some sort of rumbling repeated rhythm that rocks gently against the ever-present kick drum. It's a subtle move, but an important one, giving the track an eerie sway that is complemented by its slow-moving blue synth melody. It's among the best tracks on Asper Clouds, and its most representative. Throughout the album, Rau employs clichéd deep house and tweaks just enough to make the track sound beguiling rather than tired. "Capri"'s stomp never ceases, but the muttering voices at around four minutes come at the exact moment your mind starts to wonder if these two chords are ever going to get anywhere.
It's not nearly as composed as, say, John Roberts' recent album for Dial, but the feel of Asper Clouds and Glass Eights are the same. Both accentuate the depressive qualities of house music. Rhodes—or keyboards that sound like them—are ever-present. Melodies develop achingly slow. It makes sense that Asper Clouds would be released in October: It's not deep house as much as it is autumnal house. An album that perfectly soundtracks leaves falling from branches and taking six to eight minutes to reach the ground.
It's a careful tightrope that Rau walks, of course. But when it does, it's easy to take of Asper Clouds as ambient music. As ignorable as it is interesting. That's not a criticism, by the way. There aren't many house albums around that could—or even try—to pull that off. Rau did it in his first attempt. Here's hoping this bit of praise doesn't wake him up too much.
01. A Line
02. Ping to You
03. Do Little
04. The Cool World
05. Always the Same
06. Ne Travaillez Jamais
07. The Needs