Ada obviously believes in delayed gratification. Following a string of singles for long-time home Areal, Michaela Dippel released her debut album, Blondie, almost seven years ago now for the imprint. One of that year's most cohesive dance full-lengths, it centered around an often achingly pretty assembly of melodic techno and future songs backed by Ada's soft, blurry voice (which even included a stirring stargazer cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' bedroom anthem "Maps"). Though the intervening years have seen staggered singles for Areal and an excellent mix CD featuring much of her own material for Kompakt, it began to feel like maybe we'd never be gifted Blondie's proper follow-up.
Now that we've had a chance to digest Meine Zarten Pfoten, in some ways that remains true. Those looking for more of the long-form techno constructs of Blondie may be disappointed with Dippel's latest, which arrives on DJ Koze's year-shaping Pampa Records. Meine Zarten Pfoten is, instead, a more concise and esoteric piece of pop-craft. In fact, even given her previous allegiance with song-oriented techno, at first it's almost astonishing to hear how compact everything here sounds (and a testimony to DJ Koze's vision that he'd release it on the dance-oriented Pampa). Recording all the instruments herself, the album's filled with warm kaleidoscopic songs more concerned with emotional tethering than beat journeys.
"The Jazz Singer," for example, is a brief dash of sparkly electro pop, with Ada dancing on and around its sputtering beat. With its picked guitars and Flamenco sway, "Likely" sounds like the kind of tune that might soundtrack bright mornings at a Spanish outdoor market. "On the Mend," on the other hand, is an ambient drift—like The Field slowed to half-pace, with Ada content to hover above chiming chords and lazy-afternoon rhythm. "Happy Birthday" buries a dizzy bell pattern beneath stunted synth bursts and a slew of chopped vocals, and the two part "2 Likely" opens with Ada's multi-tracked voice in a puzzle—repeating "happy or sad happy or sad happy or sad"—before the hidden track bursts into arguably the record's most beautiful passage, a glowing high-pitched synth rippling beneath Ada's suddenly clear voice.
For those seeking more of Ada's strident six-minute workouts, I'm afraid there may be very little here to hold your attention. About the only thing that approximates her former work is "At the Gate," a dark rumbling storm that eventually clears up into colorful piano and more picked guitar and, even with its sturdy beat, still resembles downtempo more than dance music. Obviously, Ada's lengthy absence has allowed her the freedom to switch creative modes without any seemingly abrupt transitions. Meine Zarten Pfoten is bright and soft and tender, a kind of warm-bath comfort that should be perfect for those downy hours before you put the day behind you.
Buy Ada - Meine Zarten Pfoten at
Tracklist: Ada - Meine Zarten Pfoten 01. Faith
02. On the Mend
04. The Jazz Singer (Re-Imagined by Ada)
06. At the Gate
08. Happy Birthday
09. 2 Likely
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