[Rotary Cocktail Recordings]
Given the open-ended nature of creating dance music, especially using computers, it’s common for producers to go overboard. Hearing a track hundreds of times while writing it often convinces producers there needs to be more elements, if only to keep them interested. Many would do well to apply Coco Chanel’s sage advice, “…before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.” Lars Brämer, the Bremen-born, Berlin-based producer best known as Larrson, took this to heart while making the Close To The River EP for Rotary Cocktail Recordings. Absent are the superfluous vocals and other elements that muddied his past singles in favor of four purely instrumental tracks that successfully fuse a dub-techno informed palette to his house sound.
Previous Larsson tracks hinted at a low key appreciation for dub aesthetics. Wholeheartedly embracing those influences helps Brämer be more selective about which sounds make the cut; and what remains is used across the EP and especially suited for dance floor use. What opener “Intensions” lacks in flash it makes up in utility, the high pitched strings and syncopated chords gradually notching up the intensity of a hand drum-dappled groove. Finally reaching its boiling point four minutes in, a once veiled synth line reveals itself and causes its surroundings to quiver and quake. It’s a simple conceit perfectly executed — one DJs will find useful for keeping the heat on without going overboard. The title track is a more delicate and musical take on the same idea, subbing in whimsical, twisting leads reminiscent of Roman Flugel’s work. “Close To The River” holds its own despite the similarities, bearing the same purpose as its predecessor but seems made for smaller rooms. Jacking drums underpin “Todo Del Noche,” which offer both demure melodies and more aggressive chords as the payoff to its own series of builds. “Under The Blue” is the most traditionally dub-techno in shape and form, and thus lacks the unique touches which make its companions more memorable. But with two strong, widely applicable tracks on the A-side, Close To The River EP is a standout release for Larsson that could signal a shift for the German producer.