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.
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.