- Whatever is happening with the oddly dormant Ongaku/Playhouse/Klang triumvirate of labels, Roman Flügel seems to have hit an active patch with his own productions. In the last six months, we've been treated to remixes for Motorcitysoul and others, the Duran Duran-sampling single "Brian Le Bon" and the Live at Robert Johnson mix where he debuted it, and a back-to-roots EP for Running Back. Now, recording for the first time on Hamburg's Dial—a label whose whole M.O. is deeply indebted to the kind of Chicago revivalism-with-a-twist that Flügel has been doing since the mid '90s—he turns up with "How to Spread Lies," a damn-near perfect track.
It succeeds in part because it knows exactly what it wants to be. This isn't a track for every moment or mood; it's a careful exercise in crisp percussion, minor-key piano chords and twinkling synthesizers, chilly as a display of Christmas lights glimpsed through a frosted taxi window...as you leave your lover for the last time. But no, really, it's hardly as indulgent as all that, and that's precisely why it's a triumph: It's emo but restrained, thanks to an immaculate arrangement that pits a fistful of tonal elements in pinwheeling countermotion, a quiet riot of rising, falling lines.
As for the rest of the EP, the three tracks are all quirkily worthy affairs that could surely find their place into one set or another—and, just as importantly, offer a window into Flügel's unique musical imagination. "Pattern 16" is a sour, squeaky, minimalist techno jam that sounds like a dainty take on Oni Ayhun; "Pianopiano" is a brooding, beatless miniature with a similar feel to Nicolas Jaar's downtempo sketches, but more fully realized. "Sunny Side Up" closes out the record with a steppy, bit-crushed house jam in the vein of Flügel's coolly nerve-wracked Soylent Green album, La Forza del Destino; beginning with a clipped, static-brushed groove, all dissonant chimes and nervous bass, it gives way to a Rhodes keyboard solo that blows the scale of the thing sky-high.
A1 How to Spread Lies
A2 Sunny Side Up
B1 Pattern 16