Roman Flügel, Even More

[Clone Jack for Daze Series]

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When it comes to Roman Flügel, imposing boundaries is a bad idea. Yes, the German’s music is always unmistakable in terms of timbre and melodic progression, but in recent years particularly, he’s built his very success on changing things up. He’s gifted us with gentle elegy (“How to Spread Lies”), raucous house freestyling (“Brasil”), affecting hip-hop (“Thank You Jack”), neon-powered funk (“Deo”) and rigid techno (“More Is Not Enough”). And then there’s his oddball collaborations with Ricardo Villalobos, and the scores of imaginative remixes. In short, not only can Flügel seemingly do whatever he sets his mind to, he regularly does set his mind to it; a point which eludes many as-capable artists. This month, the challenge is Even More, an entry for Serge’s Clone Jack For Daze venture. The series’ focus is narrow, encompassing just one single facet of Chicago house: “jack.” While this has resulted in work of undeniable quality (e.g. Legowelt’s The Paranormal Soul) and obviously has its place, in the case of Flügel, it seems more like a cage of sorts.

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Perhaps that’s just my (obvious) admiration for Flügel coloring things. Or high expectations. After all, the series’ limits hasn’t stopped others from doing good work. Whatever the case, with their classic templates and arrow-straight progressions, both sides of this latest record prove forgettable. “Even More” has none of Flügel’s usual one-off flourishes. It doesn’t even sound sequenced, in fact. As a loop containing meaty Roland toms and niggling guitar advances and retreats, lengthens and shortens, stutters and starts, the image of an MPC or Maschine being manipulated comes far too easily to mind. Not that there’s anything wrong with a track made this way — it’s just that the loop is too simple and coarse to support the six-and-a-half minute play time. “More&More&More” suffers from similar issues, even as it replaces the guitar with an emphatic vocal. There are minor touches which work to remedy the situation — the particularly vibrant and Flügel-like timbre of the cowbell in the title track, for example. But viewed as a whole, Even More feels more like the work of a competent bedroom producer than the world-beating Roman Flügel we know and love.

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