On one side, Kann co-founder map.ache uses both available slots to explore two variations on dreamy, piano-infused, faintly downbeat house, much as he did on his Carmelia EP. "Carnival" is a snapshot of a traveling circus long after the gates have closed, with slow, Moodymann-style drum programming and pensive piano melodies laying out a downcast, toe-scuffing groove; stray chords flit by like fast food wrappers gone tumbleweed, and occasional thunderclaps, distant but distinct, help to set the mood. It doesn't content itself with mere scene setting, though, and a keening lead and flashing tambourines lend subtle dramatic movement and ample musical character.
At 120 BPM, "Staten Island Aquarium" is slightly quicker and more energetic in its groove; multiple lines of piano-like synths are layered to lead to an emotional, richly harmonic climax. What might be most striking is how he manages to take glassy, faintly cheap-sounding synth patches and weave them into something soft and luxurious.
On the M-side, Nike Bordom (Hamburg's Annette Lehmann, who released an EP on Dial in 2006) builds a fast, nervous groove out of rubbery pings and 808 for "Substitute." It's a study in contrasts: beneath that jittery beat lies a gorgeous, comforting swirl of organs, and her whispered vocals ("There is no substitute for love") lend to a feeling of intimate calm. But there's something darker trying to get out here, and it surfaces in a sour, insistent acid line that keeps the track from lapsing into sentimentalism.
Mikrodisko regulars Mix Mup and Kassem Mosse team up for the final track, a 118-BPM house grind called "We Beat This Thing." It's almost like a DJ tool in its single-mindedness, sounding a little like STL, but with harder kicks and sharper cymbals. The structure couldn't be simpler, with glumly jacking drums and bass setting out a long, linear groove; as it goes along, the pair drops in extended samples of acoustic instruments and speech—really just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. But the track benefits from its loose, spontaneous feel, and it gathers force for a finale of dubbed out drums and wildly processed voice. It's the dirtiest track on the EP, nicely rounding out an admirably varied collection of classic-but-idiosyncratic house and techno.