Rewind: Losoul – Belong

Posted: September 30th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

There were several reasons for the popularity of minimal techno and house in the late 90s and early 00s. For one, a lot of electronic club music of the preceding years was quite boisterous. Its ingredients and purpose was often not exactly subtle, satisfying clubbers and listeners that emerged from the acid house and rave days with direct signals and relentless dancefloor dynamics. And as soon as a sound becomes too dominant in the club scene, there is a reaction, and alternatives develop, and as it happened with the minimal approach they might even take over what was happening before and become dominant as well. And a freshly initiated influx of dancers and listeners had also come with different musical requirements. While the big room and big festival acts like Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers converted a rock clientele to the dance floor, a lot of people who earlier preferred less heavier independent rock music fell in love with the early Detroit minimal techno prototypes by Robert Hood , Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin and Daniel Bell, and its more dubbed out counterparts around the Berlin conglomerate of Basic Channel and its affiliated labels, or Wolfgang Voigt with his Profan and Studio 1 imprints in Cologne, or Force Inc. and later Perlon in Frankfurt or Säkhö in Finland, or Peter Ford‘s Ifach and Trelik labels. Furthermore the club scene itself went through changes. Budget airlines stormed the market and made travelling to parties affordable, new open air venues and festivals entered the circuit but they had to make concessions to surrounding areas and embraced a sound that was efficient without significantly loud and low end sound systems. Also drugs like ketamine or GHB became popular and their users liked a sound that was more reduced, hypnotic and subtle. And soon enough minimal techno crossed over to house as well, and was out to conquer.

Right in the centre of these developments was the Frankfurt imprint Playhouse founded by Ata and Heiko M/S/O, which began as the housier end of parent label Ongaku Musik, along with its fellow sub label Klang Elektronik. It put artists like Ricardo Villalobos on the map, as well as Isolée or Roman Flügel with his Roman IV or Soylent Green aliases, and they reinterpreted house music with a lot of attention to details, abstraction, reduction and repetition. Peter Kremaier aka Losoul was arguably the most defining artist in the label‘s early stages, and his productions had a signature sound that is still unique. He probably was inspired by the layering experiments of DJ Pierre‘s wild pitch sound or the immersive deep house of Ron Trent and Chez Damier, but his own tracks soon took off into their own creative zone. Beginning with 1996‘s „Open Door“ the following 12“ releases „Mandu“, „Don Disco De Super Bleep“, and „Synchro“ were masterclasses in dancefloor mesmerism. Over beats more pumping than those of his label peers, subliminal percussion and chopped chords, he worked with deconstructed disco and funk loops and occasional vocal samples that were so perfectly captivating that he could ride them over extended tracks that gradually introduced element after element with logical patience, resulting in trips you felt should never stop. But by the end of the 90s the structure of his tracks became less strict, and he also explored different sounds on dark, bass heavy tracks like „Ex.or.zis.mus“ or „Brother In Love“, to fine effect. It seemed what was still needed was an album to round up this artistic phase of his, before he would potentially venture into something new, or different.

When said album „Belong“ was then released in 2000, it came as surprise to many of his followers. The opener „Taste Not Waste“ is deceiving, as it is a brooding punchy excursion that would not have been out of place on the preceding 12“s, but already the following track „Late Play“ is a weird off-centre sounding sketch in comparison, hinting at the fact that the artist would not give away the chance to represent more of his repertoire than his trademark club stylings. „Resisting Curare“ takes up on the quirkiness, albeit speedier, while „Overland“ is an eccentric and playful take on the ever reliable Billie Jean groove, coming across like a cross between the original groove and „Kaw-Liga“ by The Residents, with extra weirdness. Then things take another unexpected turn with „Sunbeams And The Rain“, which in my humble opinion is one of the most astonishingly beautiful and sublime tracks ever to merge deep house and techno. Only slightly erratic, this majectic masterpiece is followed by the chunky slow groover „Position“, which dubs down the proceedings before the sparsely tripping yet funky „Depth Control“, another demonstration how much you can achieve with just a few thought-out, gripping elements. Next is „You Can Do“, which contains the sunniest loop Kremeier produced up to that point, a spiralling, almost balearic melody which does not let go for most of the track, thus resulting in another track you can completely lose yourself in, although it achieves that typically intense Losoul sensation with an untypical joyful mood. The last track „Trust“ is a warped and chopped hip hop version of Bill Withers‘ „Use Me“ that would grace any tape of later L.A. beatmakers, and it makes you wonder what whole other sounds the artist might have left in the vaults.

Although Losoul has continued to drop releases of consistent quality, I think „Belong“ marks the end of a certain era, in which he acted as a true solitaire, even among likeminded and similarly talented cohorts. To me it seems that only shortly after the imaginative ideas of the minimal techno and house of those years time soon were often forsaken for a sound that was already looming, more eager to please, and less interesting to listen and dance to, however exceptions might prove the rule. But it is undeniable that here lies the foundation for many backlashes and resurgences to come.

Resident Advisor September 2019

LoSoul – Belong

Posted: May 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Rezensionen | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Je mehr unausgegorene Plugin-Plucker-Tracks mit Stoppuhrvorhersehbarkeit heutzutage die Vertriebswege blockieren, desto überlebensgrößer erscheint rückblickend die Phase Mitte der 90er Jahre bis ins nächste frühe Jahrtausend, als Playhouse mit fast jedem Release die Erwartungen vor sich her trieb. House bekam einen neuen Anstrich der bis heute nachwirkt, jedoch heute nur noch selten so gut klingt. Die Diskrepanz erscheint umso größer, je mehr Produzenten gerade meinen, sich mit einer halbgaren Deepness abmühen zu müssen, weil es der Konsens gerade vorgibt. Es scheint nur zu oft, als würden viele stereotype Flächen, viele spießig getaktete Rhythmen, viele pseudoversonnene Brüche und viele Frickelversuche von etlichen Ideen ausgezählt werden, die etwa Isolée oder Roman Flügel schon vor langen Jahren hatten. Und eben LoSoul. Peter Kremeier war der cool ruler. Er setzte das Hypnoseträchtige von Wild Pitch, die Tiefe von Prescription, die Discodekonstruktionen von Cajual und die reine Lehre von Larry Heard in einen völlig originären Sound um, der nur noch Spuren seiner Vorgänger aufwies, aber zu gleich wirkenden Resultaten kam. Seine Hypnoseträchtigkeit kam von einer fast stoischen Beharrlichkeit, nicht von einer gen Höhepunkt gesteuerten Dramaturgie, seine Tiefe kam vom Gesamteindruck der Einzelteile, über lange Hörminuten verinnerlicht, seine Discoreminiszenzen waren bis zur Unkenntlichkeit dekonstruiert, aber massiv und funky, und seine Lehre war selbst rein genug um fortzubestehen. Ähnlich wie bei Isolées Debütalbum vom gleichen Jahr konnte auch „Belong“ nicht auf volle Länge den hohen Erwartungen der vorherigen 12“s entsprechen, da fehlte ein wenig das durchgehend Zwingende und die Kohärenz, die das Format nun mal erfordert, aber zumindest eine Hälfte der Tracks ist nach wie vor gut. Und zwar so gut, dass der Rest überhaupt nicht ins Gewicht fällt. „Taste Not Waste“ oder „Depth Control“ sind zeitlose, dunkle Anschauungsbeispiele dafür, wie man Reduktion mit Druck verbinden kann, ohne auch nur einen Moment an Intensität zu verlieren. „Overland“ ist gleichzeitig das Naheliegendste und das Entfernteste, was man mit „Billie Jean“ anstellen konnte. „You Can Do“ zieht Kreise um seinen Loop bis nur noch Schönheit übrig bleibt, und „Sunbeams And The Rain“ setzt dieser Schönheit ein Denkmal im Maßstab einer himmelhohen Statue, ebenso überraschend pur traditionalistisch wie erwartet konsequent weitergehend. „Belong“, in der Tat.

LoSoul – Belong (Playhouse, 2000)

de:bug 05/10