Legowelt's transformation from master of twitchy electro bangers like "Dirty Tango," "Swimming Pool" and "Strange Girl" to deep space house epics isn't so much a change as an unravelling. The core of his enormous body of work reveals an indebtedness to the classic Chicago/Detroit axis in both sound and production style. On The Paranormal Soul he gathers some of the crispest and deepest house music you'll hear this or any year.
Somewhat a distillation of last years' sprawling "forest techno" freebie album The TEAC Life, The Paranormal Soul is cleaner, more concise, more danceable. The drum programming (historically not Wolfers' strongest suit) is exceptional, and the odd vocal or vocal sample ("Clap Yo Hands," "Voice of Triumph," "Renegade of a New Age") extremely well-integrated. But tying it all together and making it so much more than just a retro exercise are those ever-present ineffable Legowelt melodies. Swirling and noodling through every track are uncanny lead lines, played on dense, sweet-sounding vintage synths. The sounds he coaxes from this often fragile gear are often more subtle, complex and original than those of his contemporaries.
"Elements of Houz Music" exemplifies this: a skittering drumbeat and clompy bassline accompany a bright, cascading almost Caribbean melody and a set of soothing pads. The overall effect is familiar but far from typical. "On the Tiger Train" revels in the sensual interplay of tones like Eno or Glass but set to a throbbing, neck-working beat. The raw house drum workout "I Only Move for U" is littered with filtered swells and a spiky, percussive closing line. The album closes with a sequence of strong melodic cuts: the almost joyous "I Only Move for U," the space-y "Renegade of a New Age," the soaring "On a Cold Winters Day," and lastly "To the Homeland." The latter nods thematically towards Legowelt's earlier, darker roots, only undercut with a superbly manipulated, jazz-like vocal line.
The Paranormal Soul isn't a record that breaks any new ground in the world of sequenced electronic music. What it does do is reinvestigate the roots of house and techno with vigour. More importantly, it marks a high point in the progression of one of the underground's most capable and ever-developing producers. Wolfers displays charmingly little interest in addressing the techno trends of the day, choosing instead to walk his own idiosyncratic route. It's a path well worth joining him on.