Let's start with the bad news. This is not Reflections II. Martin Stimming is still putting a kick on the first and a snare or a clap on the third, but gone are the inward-folding melodies, the odd little flights, the punchy washes of color that made that record such a treat.
Stormdrum shuffles to attention with opener "Funk With Me," a breezy midtempo job with muddy bass wending through a stand of reedy synths. It's the strongest track in the triplicate, though both the glib vocal sample and the dry percussion loop dip into annoyance at about minute four. Stimming drafts a tighter drum palette on the eponymous cut, but squanders it. The track's backbone is a deep, detuned flute loop that resolves with a flat fart chord—not a winner. Aside from a pair of drum breaks and a warm little patch of trance pad noodling, that's all you're going to get in seven-and-a-half minutes. This track runs the longest and offers the least. It's the "Fizheuer Zieheuer" school of tech house: bore them 'til they call you a genius.
The EP's closer "Chemistry" has more working components than "Stormdrum" and they work much better in concert. Onto his trademark one-two bass/snare kit, Stimming piles pitch-shifted harpsichord, cute little treated piano stabs and an occasional rough saw, all in tastefully limited doses. The track has no distinct "good part" but it has no tedious one either; the combined effect is competent, if not compelling.
The good news is that Stimming knows what he's good at—building atmospheric, understated house scaffolding and then decorating the interior with odd, charming audio knickknacks. But in the months since Reflections, he hasn't come up with anything that's going to unseat that incredible longplayer in terms of either innovation or repeat listenability But the dude is young and talented and sometimes the pressure to capitalize on your distinctive sound outweighs the pressure to improve it. That's what a sophomore LP is for, anyway.
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Tracklist: Stimming - Stormdrum A Funk With Me