Few producers in electronic music have reveled in sonic idiosyncrasies over their career like Roman Flügel. A renowned sound designer and meticulous craftsman, Flügel's issued music from acid house to heavily textured IDM and techno under guises like Alter Ego and Soylent Green to Eight Miles High and Sensorama. Always rich with intricacies and subtle flourishes, Flügel's music typically straddles several electronic micro-genres often within any single creation. Now, following the success of two luxurious house singles—How to Spread Lies and Brasil—on Dial, Flügel returns to the Hamburg giant for his latest LP, Fatty Folders.
Fittingly, Fatty Folders is itself a diverse and varied collection of sounds. If it's tempting, given the label on which it arrives and the singles that precede it, to consider the album Flügel's foray into the fleecier ends of the house spectrum, it's soon clear just how little the producer's willing to confine himself to downy, late night fare. In some ways, it's an assembly of the various nom-de-recordings he's invented over the years, but with the cohesion and exactitude that any such compilation would necessarily lack.
Sure, there's more hyper-refined house. Included is last year's elegant elegy, "How to Spread Lies," which is matched by the night-walk synths of "Rude Awakening" and the gorgeous if somber neo-classical piano samples and jazzy, pitter-patter percussion of album highlight "Song with Blue." But aside from the cuts that seem to fit well under the Dial banner, Flügel enriches his creations here with his always painstaking attention to detail. On headphones, though Flügel paints with a bit wider brush, a track like "Lush Life Libido"—with its warbling synth curls, disorienting cuts and sonic clicks, and uncertain rhythmic footing—resembles a throwback to Perlon or Playhouse from microhouse's heyday, and "Deo" is similarly misleading from the surface, pinned down by a central melody that sounds almost Japanese within a very strutty, muscular cut of throwback Chicago house.
Likewise, "Bahia Blues Bootcamp" undermines its initial warmth with a manic crossing of several synthesizer lines until the track begins to seem almost frantic, while with its acidic squelches and slow, burbling synths, "The Improvisor" is a moment of controlled fury, something mad seething just beneath the surface of its pulse-steady beat.
One of the most interesting asides, however, arrives in the mid-album breather, "Krautus." Layering several horizon-wide synth washes together into the kind of nu-kosmiche anthem James Holden would have closed with on last year's DJ Kicks, Flügel crafts what is not only a palette-cleanser of sorts for the surrounding tracks, but one of the more idiosyncratic and unexpected moments on the album (and one, brief though it may be, that's dying for an extended remix, say of the Prins Thomas variety). It's an instance that astonishes, not from Flugel's deft production touch but by his restraint, his willingness to indulge in the most beautiful simplicities. As such, it's not representative, but stands as another surprise from a producer long since known for them. Fatty Folders is arguably his best work to date, and sure to be one of the year's most treasured LPs.
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Tracklist: Roman Flugel - Fatty Folders 01. How to Spread Lies
02. Lush Life Libido
04. Bahia Blues Bootcamp
05. The Improviser
07. Rude Awakening
08. Song with Blue
10. Don't Break My Heart
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