Nick Höppner has just revealed the first single from his forthcoming LP, Folk , so we took the opportunity to reveal our own print review of Steffi’s The Power of Anonymity .
Panorama Bar and Ostgut Ton honcho Nick Höppner has just revealed the first single from their forthcoming LP, Folks . “Rising Overheads, ” which you can hear below, channels the hypnotic and enveloping ambiance that makes Höppner’s DJ sets so powerful. We are planning to celebrate his prowess being a selector with a Played Out feature in the next issue of Electronic Beats Magazine , in which our favorite DJs describe a three-track sequence they might play in a set and how the tracks go together—the inaugural column starred Janus group member KABLAM. While we await the release of Folk and the following issue of Digital Beats Magazine , we’ve used the time to look back on last issue and the preceding album from Ostgut Ton, which was made by many other Panorama Bar stalwart Steffi. We covered the reveal of the title track from that album, The Power of Anonymity , here.
Dance music producers often defy style in principle but submit into it in practice. That’s not to say that all modern dance music sucks, but it can be hard to tell the difference between the derivative and the fresh. Producers face the task of balancing their innovative impulses with the specific and conservative needs of genre and context. Historically however , artists were viewed as particular figures distinct from mere mortals, and it’s hard to reconcile this model with the production practice associated with house, techno, or electro makers whose identities can be diffuse and abstract. Now that dancefloor-oriented styles have entered a middle age in which the parameters are set and the anticipation are known, how does a manufacturer make something special?
Steffi Doms is hardly a good anonymous figure in modern house and techno circles. Yet the method she pulls the strings on her new album calls to mind a good unseen puppeteer, manipulating inert items into recognizable human forms. Doms draws from the bedrock of classic electro and house, yet the items are put into motion in just a means that we end up with something seductive. Within her music, production becomes a couple minutes gestures. Of course , injecting animate life into weary tropes is hard, especially from behind a impair of anonymity. Sensitivity to stylistic nuance and a real world appreciation associated with what works on the dancefloor are key to making dance music more than an exercise. Doms has that in spades.
In that sense, Power of Anonymity is potent in its simplicity. An arsenal of analogue machines trace out generic guidelines drawn decades ago in Detroit and Chi town, but the music in no way feels like fetishism. Doms follows the prescriptions of the past but not merely for their own sake. On “Pip” she pulls off loud and resonant electro along with grace and finesse, before scuba diving headlong into strutting synth put with regular collaborators Dexter and Virginia on “Treasure Seeking. ” These stylistic poles eventually form a larger pattern, fitting seamlessly along with musical moods you’ll recognize yet perhaps find hard to place.
Part of the pleasure you get in watching a puppet show is forgetting the human fingers pulling the strings; Power of Anonymity gets you to focus on what’s in fact happening in front of you rather than the guiding sensibility behind it. It sucks within the listener with an infectious sense associated with wonder that doesn’t feel associated with any particular time, genre or city. And still, the musical hyperlinks are clear as day. In general, Power of Invisiblity is strangely subversive in its ability to make you hear this on its own terms.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014/2015 issue of Digital Beats Magazine . To read more from this issue, click here.