Dutch electronic stalwart Brian Chinetti has released four albums thus far (albeit on CD-R), but Strange Paradise is the first for his longtime label-of-choice Crème Organization. Like his frequent collaborator Danny "Legowelt" Wolfers, Chinetti's Orgue Electronique guise sounds inherently like the work of a synth collector, or at least a guy who really knows his way around his machines. His arrangements, swelling as they are at times, leave nothing out of place.
In spite of his expertise, Strange Paradise opens on an uneasy premise. On "Our House," legendary vocalist Robert Owens is roped in to spout cliches about how "we built this house"—stop me if you've heard this one before. The genre is almost thirty years old, and it shouldn't have to assert itself so heavy-handedly anymore. As solid as its instrumental is, the track feels like a bizarre joke next to the rest of the album, because it's smooth sailing once you get past it.
The album's eleven tracks reference classic movements from Chicago, Detroit, New York and The Hague, but Chinetti's main focus seems to be on getting his machines to sing. One gets the sense that he could easily release a beatless album and keep the emotional pull intact. His approach may appear retro-fetishist, but "revisionist" is a more accurate descriptor—Chinetti is hyperaware of his influences, handpicking his favorite elements and fleshing them out.
Take "Meant To Be," where he locks a synth horn—maybe the ultimate old-school signifier—into a tunneling, unrelenting groove, or "Relieve Me," which immediately brings to mind Claude Young and Robert Hood in its springy bassline and circular synth patterns, but sets them on the framework of a dazed jack track. "Real Rainforest" and "Wind of Summer," meanwhile, are comparatively tranquil, and Chinetti laces both with an infectious, convivial warmth, working in insinuations of disco guitar and hand drums among bright, lushly draped pads. For an album that deals with a lot of stock ingredients, Strange Paradise shows a keen sense of balance and personality, as Chinetti's synthesizers consistently rise above their humble backdrops.