Over the last few years, Legowelt’s relevance has grown apace with his eccentricity. The demand for raw, historically informed, and lucid house has managed to meet Danny Wolfers where he’s at; for his part, the Dutch producer seems ever more emboldened to crank out his freaked brand of dance music. He’s both fringe and central, it would appear, because of a hardworking, lustily creative drive rather than fussy mystique. We’re a long way from Legowelt albums as conceptually premediated, say, the one about Manuel Noriega. Like The TEAC Life before it, The Paranormal Soul is more data dump than album proper, but what a dump it is. Legowelt’s at his best when his music embodies the uncomplicated desire to meld minds with whatever machines are lying around the studio, and The Paranormal Soul delivers on this account without a pause.
There’s no guiding metanarrative here, but The Paranormal Soul‘s tracks hang together out of sheer energy. The tongue-in-cheek cover art is the first indication that Wolfers is in full-on 90s new-age mode, “The X-Files” supplanting the early gutter-house sleaze of tracks like “Total Pussy Control.” (Indeed, the album opens with a “Twin Peaks” quotation: a slurry, pitched-down sample of the spiel delivered by the abrasive Agent Albert Rosenfeld after Sherriff Truman punches him in the mouth.) But of course we’re leagues away from pat irony chez Legowelt, and he puts his Discovery Channel mysticism to use establishing a hyperbolically large stage for these jacking tunes. To his credit, from the terrestrial dance floors of “Rave Till Dawn” to the infinity of “Transformation Of The Universe,” the tracks very rarely feel anticlimactic.
The album can feel monolithic at points, however. While a bit all over the map in comparison to Tin Man’s stately Neo Neo Acid, Legowelt’s latest is a similarly intermissionless parade of solid rhythms. Apart from the Drexciyan workout of “Voice of Triumph,” The Paranormal Soul revolves around the simple interplay between rough-and-ready beats, suggestive melodies, and fizzy pads. “Elements Of Houz Music”‘s ambient intro gets sliced up by brawny hi-hat programming, creating a vacuum for the melody to swirl around in. “Rave Till Dawn” lets the hi-hats do even more of the heavy lifting: rave jabs give way to a funky break that fairly slithers onto the scene, spreading pungent baggy vibes through the track like an ink drop on a tissue. “Tiger On the Train” and “Transformation Of The Universe,” on the other hand, embrace motifs that sound like the result of MIDI accidents rather than deliberate programming. It’s impressive to hear these bulky note clusters cleave away from the beat before being wrangled back into place, but these two tracks are the only on the album that run the risk of being interchangeable.
Legowelt works against sameness by reconfiguring sequences on the fly, paraphrasing or reflecting a melody, or seeing how it looks somewhere else in the mix. In the interest of preserving momentum, he doesn’t play with texture or let things breathe too much, and the mixes have the cramped and saturated feel of cassette tape. This sounds particularly apt when Wolfers doubles the drum machine with a sampled break, as on “Rave Till Dawn.” While there isn’t much negative space to speak of, neither does it feel overstimulating or mushy. With this propulsive album, Wolfers puts the listener on a kind of sonic Möbius strip. We end up where we started, aware of the desire to retrace that simple mystery again.