Roman Flügel, Desperate Housemen EP

[Live at Robert Johnson]

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Roman Flügel has had a winning streak under his given name lately. After his excellent contribution to the Live At Robert Johnson mix series, he’s released two stunning EPs: the unhinged reach-for-the-sky Aphex-isms of “Brian Le Bon” and the hauntingly reserved Dial EP, How To Spread Lies. His latest, a four-track EP, marks a triumphant return to the Live At Robert Johnson label, an imprint that further and further proves its surprising worth outside of its original purpose.

The humorously-titled Desperate Housemen EP sits somewhere in-between those last two releases, pulling in the melodic grandeur of “Brian Le Bon” and sticking it in the subtle and refined template of his Dial EP. “Lovedancing” is the immediate highlight, where distant whistles bounce off shuffling handclaps and tickling chimes, hemmed in by drafty blasts of synthetic bombast. Ever the careful hand, Flügel balances his track perfectly with a gritty bass line and trigger-happy snares, nudging it just slightly in and out of dance floor territory so that it works in any setting. Continuing in the same boogie-centric direction, “Mulish Crease” sprouts bright plucked strings and pitchbent chords from its bristling low-end, hinting at deep house with a laborious and straightforward saunter.

The deep house reference is made explicit on “Iron Curtain,” where descending bass notes and ancient drum machines amble along with a loopy chord percussion and strings. “Dishes & Wishes” is the only track that doesn’t feel revelatory, an average exercise in barreling house with a few special touches, such as the three-dimensional “whoomp” that happens about two minutes in. While nothing here quite touches the dizzy heights of “Brian Le Bon” or “How To Spread Lies,” Desperate Housemen continues Flügel’s lovely stretch of classy, melodic house, subtly loaded with clever flourishes and deft production values, executed with utmost clarity and finesse.

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