Julius Steinhoff, You Collect Secrets

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Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

[Live At Robert Johnson]

Sometimes, a record suddenly asserts itself. Instantly turns “meh” into “yeah!” On Julius Steinhoff’s latest 12″, You Collect Secrets, that point is a breakdown a couple of minutes into the title track. Only there can a sequence of stunning glitchy bells emerge from a tangle of synth and bass, shining lucid for the first time. It’s like a break in the clouds; a grey and shuttered sun finally unleashing its golden warmth. Such is the power of the moment that Steinhoff reprises it again later on, perhaps even more effectively. With blissful moments like this in mind, it’s easy to understand the young German’s popularity, despite his short oeuvre of solo records.

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Like the catalog of Smallville, the label he part-owns, Steinhoff’s tracks have an elegant, streamlined beauty to them but — and this is the most important part — rarely slip into feeling stuffy or pretentious. This isn’t an easy mood to nail — it’s more than just throwing in a good minor-key organ hook. This is evinced in “She Can’t Go,” where three separate lines of melody cling to a brittle skeleton of claps and hats, but move together as one with the apparent ease of a ballerina, nothing clashing or detracting from anything else. “The Cloud Song” might be an even better example. Like 2011’s “Mischief of One Kind and Another,” it’s totally narcotic, late-addition flute peals barely disturbing the hypnotic, chord-driven peace. Steinhoff does busy and intense well, but it’s pared-down, single-speed tracks like this where he really comes into his brilliant own. The first two cuts are good, but even if they don’t hit the spot, You Collect Secrets is worth picking up for this demonstration alone.

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Little White Earbuds September Charts 2013 – Little White Earbuds  on October 4, 2013 at 12:01 AM

[…] Julius Steinhoff, “You Collect Secrets” [Live At Robert Johnson] (buy) 07. BNJMN, “CVRD” [Rush Hour Recordings] (buy) 08. Hugh […]

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