Does a rags to riches story ever fail to generate a bit of interest in an artist? One day they're broke and trying to set up a label and the next day their demo falls into the hands of a big cheese who sets them on the road to the bigtime. Mihai Popoviciu hails from Romania and his story is pretty similar, ever since the day DJ Hell signed him to Gigolo in 2004. A bit of a Jack of all trades, Mihai has produced electro-pop, disco and Italo – his music has sounded like a Balkan answer to Alden Tyrell at times. This time round, however, he decides to ditch the electro/Italo drift and get his tech house on for Level Non Zero. Pascal FEOS, it seems, is betting on a newbie.
The title track couldn't be further from the standard electro/depressed male vocal swagger of Mihai’s 'In the Dark' track. Trancey Germanic techno is the order of the day here and the rhythm end actually sounds purposeful early on, picking up a spooky synth and a driving bassline to...pretty average effect it must be said. Is this what happens when someone jumps ship but actually ends up in the deep end, out of their depth in a particular genre? On the plus side, there’s an appealing timbre to it, if that kind of thing is important to you.
On the flip, 'Capcana' is actually a shade worse, taking things down an even more predictable route. This sounds like watered-down tech-trance and really isn't worth the time it takes to cue it up on your turntable. There must be a million records that sound like this so why bother?
'Sharp' does a little to save the day. A poor man's Gabriel Ananda, it isn’t completely throwaway with a skippy beat and modulating synths, but by the midpoint it's evidently going nowhere fast. There’s a moral in this story: like the cliché says, best to stick to what you know best. This is not up to the FEOS standard at all. A poor release from Level Non Zero.
Tracklist: Mihai Popoviciu - First ContactA. First Contact