Tensnake, Coma Cat

[Permanent Vacation]

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Despite what seems like a rapid ascent for Hamburg’s Marco Niemerski, the man best known as Tensnake has been honing his craft for over a decade. His breakout Keep Believin’ EP for Endless Flight and 2009 smash hit, In The End (I Want You To Cry) on Running Back sounded so fully realized because he’d worked out the kinks on one-off singles for smaller labels like Trax of Interest, Various Delight Recordings, and Players Paradise, as well as releases on his own Mirau imprint. With the Coma Cat EP, released by nu-disco hotspot Permanent Vacation, it appears Niemerski’s sound has crystallized even further around the neon tone palette and taut arrangements that brought him many plaudits on In The End.

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In a 2009 interview, Niemerski professed wanting to make “something timeless” with his music. Even more so than on In The End, Coma Cat offers tunes whose memorable arrangements and accessible pacing belie their length and feel like full fledged songs a band might play from heart. Led by Tensnake’s signature frisky bass lines, each tune bulges with clever vamps and variably affected vocal bumps that keep audiences guessing well into the sixth minute. Although “Need Your Lovin,” the EP’s most song-like cut didn’t make the vinyl — likely because of that trait — its vocal heavy verses and choruses could’ve originated in an 80’s pop song and no one would be the wiser. That’s where the dub version comes in, its toothy bass line and florid synth patterns (one which recalls a whistling sound from Dr. Dre’s west coast g-funk beats) radiating between thoughtfully pruned vocal chunks. The glowing title track has me envisioning a cat stretched out, snoozing in a sunbeam, although its breezy vibe melody (and deliberate keyboard phrases just as easily evoke a beachside dance party. [And as has been pointed out in the comments, its themes are also quite similar to Anthony And The Camp’s “What I Like.”] “Get It Right,” however, seems like a holdover from the In The End sessions, the tightly coiled synth licks welling up and releasing in much the same manner as “Holding Back (My Love),” just at a brisker pace. That hardly makes it a dud — it’s just a bit too familiar. I suspect it will find favor with DJs who didn’t want to commit to “Holding Back”‘s languid tempo but loved the sound. As an artist who values sounds that age well over time, Niemerski has done well on Coma Cat to develop his style while reinforcing the songwriting that makes his music so enjoyable.

cz  on March 18, 2010 at 8:28 PM

You note that “Need Your Lovin” “could’ve originated in an 80’s pop song and no one would be the wiser”, and you laud his songwriting ability, yet you completely neglect to mention that “Coma Cat” itself is basically a cover of “What I Like” by Anthony and the Camp.

Here’s a link to youtube videos of both tracks for those who don’t know them. http://www.deejaycountzero.com/blog/?p=178

Anton  on March 18, 2010 at 9:19 PM

You’ll have to pardon me for not having an encyclopedic of 80’s disco funk. I’ll edit it to reflect the fact. That said, pointing out a sample doesn’t refute my point that he’s talented songwriter.

Parts of “Coma Cat” are certainly derivative of “What I Like” but I think calling it “basically a cover” misses the mark. Niemerski has made his own song with what he co-opts, much like Floating Points when he reworked “Love Me Like This.”

Think of how much of house music is based around samples, and compare that with what Niemerski does with these riffs — and his own instrumentation. There’s a lot more here in addition to Niemerski’s ear for a hot, obscure hook.

cz  on March 19, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Easy there tiger, no need to get all defensive. I didn’t know the original cut either until I heard Tensnake’s track! I was actually trying to provide you with evidence that you’re RIGHT, not wrong. That being said, I’m still not sure his cover improved on the original, and I think it’s disingenuous of the dude not to credit the original in some way. I certainly don’t have anything against covers or samples or homages, and this same argument came up in the whole Josh Wink vs. Dan Bell Phreak debacle several years ago, but it’s interesting to see (hear) it happening again.

Anton  on March 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM

I see your point and agree Niemerski should’ve credited his source. My defensive posture was mostly responding to your phrasing — “completely neglect” — which seemed accusatory to me. Tone suffers a lot in Internet discussions like these.

tx81z  on March 31, 2010 at 5:42 AM

i remember this guy mentioned in some interviews that a new track called coma cat is based on an anthony & the camp track long before coma cat was released. so all good ;-)

Law  on April 15, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Bit Tenuous CZ To call it a cover and say ‘it nicked’ Just checked your blog and the two tracks. you can tell the influence and can pick up the samples but i think its far removed from a straight cover

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