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Various Artists


(Traum Schallplatten; US: 10 Jun 2008; UK: 14 Jul 2008)

Traum Schallplatten celebrates its ten year anniversary and 100th release with a lone CD. Not a parade or a limited edition multi-colored vinyl with 40 page self-congratulatory booklet on the label’s history: one disc, 11songs. A humble move by a perpetually competent, if not entirely revolutionary depository of electronic dance music. If one can find a consummate flaw with this disc, it’s that most of the tracks are so migratory and fractionary that distinct individual parts stand out to disappoint the whole of an occasionally brilliant track, an error standardly corrected in DJing.

Bukaddor & Fishbeck’s “Decade” sounds quite minimal, but deep listening will reveal about ten tracks, with perhaps ten years of tracks, crammed into one six minute experience. And seven of them are sheer genius. Minilogue is purely rhythmic, Villalobos style acoustic skittering mixed with slowly phased subtle interjections of cymbal vapor trails, until five and a half minutes in when the supplemental ambient textures are foregrounded, for no good reason. Gabriel Ananda’s “Lila Pause” is the the inverse. Hypnotic in an almost nostalgic-for-early-Warp kind of way, its gorgeous free-float final minute is its, and perhaps the album’s, peak. Other highs come in the form of Broker/Dealer’s mellifluous cloud-hitcher “Midnight” and the crafty and economical tech-funk loops and stripped Harold Faltermeyer keypads of Max Ernst lynchpin Thomas Brinkmann’s “Aleks in Love”.  As worthwhile an introduction as you’re likely to get to Traum, by a series of artists whose works sound as equally comfortable trapped in 1998 as the do chasing the scarce verve of 2008.


Timothy Gabriele is a writer who studied English and Film at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. He currently lives in the New Haven, CT region with his family. His column, The Difference Engine, appears regularly at PopMatters. He can be found twittering @Wildcorrective and blogging at 555 Enterprises.

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