It takes a unique group to build an album that can sustain such a potentially divisive cover song. But Wareika are nothing if not unique. The trio runs in dance music circles—previous singles have appeared on Eskimo, Connaisseur and liebe*detail, among others—and yet play shows with guitar and keyboard. The only thing that distinguishes them from a rock band such as The Doors is that, instead of a drummer, you have one guy behind an oversized mixing board, tweaking the percussion in real-time instead of playing it.
In listening to Formation, however, even that is called into question. Unlike their dance music brethren, Wareika's drum programming is deliciously organic. It's no accident that Villalobos was moved to remix "King's Child," a 2009 single on Motivbank. Nonetheless, what makes Formation great is the trio's ability to balance defining elements of rock and dance effortlessly: There are few orgiastic solos here. Restraint is the watchword. Nothing overtly memorable happens in "Barracuda," for example, but listen closely and you'll hear what amounts to a jazz band hard at work making it sound like they're anything but hard at work.
"One Nation" is the only major misstep to these ears, as the trio takes on Balkan music but forgets that the blasts of virtuosity are the thing that keeps the bounce of Taraf de Haïdouks interesting. Wareika, by nature, aren't interested in such showmanship, and without it the song comes off as an irritatingly long bit of musical tourism. That they seamlessly find their way into "Facing the Sun," one of the album's two centerpieces along with the aforementioned "Riders," is testament, however, to how carefully this album was constructed. Without "One Nation," Formation would likely not work as well—a point that should assuage vinyl-lovers that may already have some of these tracks in 12-inch form.
For those who haven't been following Wareika closely, Formation may comes as a minor revelation. Danceable techno-not-techno played at techno speeds. It's not a reinvention of the wheel. And there are plenty of groups emerging at the moment doing similar work such as Elektro Guzzi and Brandt, Brauer, Frick, but Wareika is likely the only one that you'll find that can credibly cover The Doors and warrant a Villalobos remix. That much, I reckon, should make you want to hear Formation. It's well worth the time.