Roland Appel has been a permanent fixture of the German nü-jazz-tinged deep house scene for this entire decade, first as a member of Trüby Trio, then with his recent solo productions. But for every accolade from the genre's luminaries such as Dennis Ferrer or the ever-in-the-know Dixon, there are also those compilations with off-putting titles such as The Future Sound of Jazz, Klubbjazz, and, er, Coffeeshop Culture. Hopefully, Talk to Your Angel, Appel's first long player on his own (although it is for the most part, technically speaking, a compilation of various tracks recorded for Sonar Kollektiv and released on 12-inch in the past 18 months), falls in the much-feted, rather-quite-brilliant, and Henrik-Schwarz-worthy categories.
Sure, album opener "Inner Soul (Slow Version)" walks the fine line between downtempo elation and cringing Enya-like positivism. Having celestial choirs peppered all over the track with lyrics that shamelessly state that "creativity is love-making with your soul" (suuure) probably doesn't help either in terms of suggesting club-oriented epicurism. This feeling lingers later on the album with "Angel," which is as down as downtempo ever gets before turning into actual evanescence. That said, both songs are taking their cheesiest elements and are transforming them into arrangements so sumptuous they would make even the most cynical of hearts melt.
"Lost Valley," on the other hand, is a truly surprising one. Beginning with a neo-disco, almost Balearic, feel that would make the Aeroplane guys proud, it then increases tempo until a discrete yet pumping beat emerges, surrounded by filtered tube-like echoes and numerous other effects. It morphs and changes right in front of your eyes with such intensity that it succeeds at making deep house, a genre with sometimes conservative codes of conduct, rather quite kaleidoscopic. "Unforgiven," with its almost Schaffel-like beat patterns, might appear a bit retro at first as well, but in the context of both the genre's codes and Appel's craftsmanship, it sounds actually quite current, especially after three introductory minutes when it launches into full-on, hands-in-the-air celebratory house mode, with light congas and exquisite fake strings—those two adjectives are not mutually exclusive, are they?—lurking in the background. One could say these two tracks are the album's apex, but that wouldn't be taking into consideration the impressive use "Dark Soldier" makes of minimal restraint and "Lunatic Fringe"-like vocal samples (incidentally, both tracks appeared next to each other on Agoria's stellar At the Controls mix from last year).
Appel's solo effort ends on "Child Song": with its disco-ish bass line and twirling summery effects, this one could even be a Studio-sponsored production if it wasn't for Araba Walton's slightly affected singing, which, again, might be a bit much for some in terms of New Agey sentimentality. But at this point in time, if you haven't surrendered to Talk to Your Angel's heavenly charms, then nothing will make you.
Buy Roland Appel - Talk To Your Angel at
Tracklist: Roland Appel - Talk To Your Angel01. Inner Soul (Slow Version)
04. New Love
06. Lost Valley
07. Dark Soldier
09. Child Song
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