Roman Flügel, Fatty Folders


Photo by Hussein Chalayan

[Dial]


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If you follow dance music as obsessively as I do, you’re likely to feel like there’s something at stake with every 12″ and MP3 that flows your way. Between the eternally forward motion of the UK scene, the endless refining of the Berliners, the fervent keeping of the flame by those in Chicago and Detroit, and the producers worldwide caught in the spiral of any and all of the above, dance music can be surprisingly serious business. But when you’re Roman Flügel — a multi-decade veteran of house, techno, electro, and probably a dozen other microgenre tags whose influence drips off plenty of the producers currently caught in the fray — your seriousness about this stuff doesn’t really need restating. Indeed, as Dial started disseminating new Flügel material late last year in advance of a new full-length, it was clear this godfather wouldn’t be playing kick-drum politics in 2011. But on some of the better 12″s from the last 12 months, both for Dial and for Live at Robert Johnson, and now with the new LP, Flügel showed that he’s not disengaging either.

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So what’s utterly current about Fatty Folders? Honestly, not all that much. As it turns out, that all-bleep mix Flügel did for our feature on Live At Robert Johnson a few months back was a pretty good indicator of what his latest full-length would offer: just as on the singles, there’s a subtle wistfulness here for the trends Flügel had a pretty big stake in that don’t get much attention anymore (microhouse, anyone?). But more than a paean to long-lost subgenres or a play at shifting the conversation back in a particular direction, Fatty Folders is a celebration of having an inimitable voice. That these tracks sound lovely mixed with whatever we’re supposed to be calling the newest of the new these days shows that originality — or at the very least owning your sound — can translate into freshness.

Though it lacks Flügel’s best tune from this era (“Brasil,” released in May, is about as sublimely unhinged a track as anyone’s making in house music right now), the CD version of Fatty Folders leads off with the close second, the truly gorgeous “How To Spread Lies.” It’s an auspicious start to a full-length, but Flügel doesn’t sound terribly concerned with topping it, or even with structuring the record to flow out from there. He covers quite a lot of ground, taking us from atmospheric minimal (“Lush Life Libido”) to luxurious synth-pop (“Deo”), from a nightclub going off (“Rude Awakening”) to a series of rainy afternoons (“Song With Blue” and “Softice”). But even at its most disjointed, Fatty Folders is curiously consistent: truly a genius of sound design, Flügel builds all of these tunes out of the same soft and surprisingly pliable materials. Where much of the album could have easily sounded dated, he imbues even his least trendy reference points with something like that new car smell.

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But this album isn’t just a matter of a seasoned producer reselling us a decade or more of refurbished trends; that said, he’s not exactly cutting a new highway through the forest, either. I hear Fatty Folders as a good deal more personal than either of these options: it’s Roman Flügel making dance music as only he can. And if it’s quietly making an argument for anything in contemporary electronic music, it’s that we should all strive to just be ourselves.

Nick  on October 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Great review. Can’t say I agree with you about “Brasil” though. All four tracks on April’s “Desperate Housemen” EP are top-notch.

tibal  on October 12, 2011 at 4:39 AM

this is so well produced.it sounds like old recipes cooked with new and secret ingredients. It’s a very good album even if i don’t like every single track.
The track”Deo” drives me nuts, it’s a great track, that is simple and original at the same time and make me want to jump.

JL  on October 12, 2011 at 9:49 AM

I quite liked this more than I initially expected. It sounds so well designed, not just the sounds or textures but also the sequence. Roman’s has put a lot of effort on this, I think.
I will say that Roman’s highlight is the Eight Miles High album as the best of his career(so far) but this comes pretty close.

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds October Chart 2011 | Little White Earbuds  on November 4, 2011 at 10:02 AM

[…] Gerd, “Palm Leaves” [Royal Oak] (buy) 07. Roman Flügel, “Lush Life Libido” [Dial] (buy) 08. Luomo, “Good Stuff” [Moodmusic] (buy) 09. BNJMN, “Open The […]

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