One of my very favorite records of last year was the fifth transmission from Workshop, anchored by an incredible standalone Benjamin Brunn track and earning its keep with complementary stunners from Da Halz and Rising Sun (names then unknown to me). So I felt a little quickening of the heart as I scanned the tracklist of this, the first release from the new Diamonds & Pearls-distributed Dérive Schallplatten. This record, too, is headed by an outstanding Brunn track, and offers the mystique of a pair of new names in Achim Maerz and Christopher Rau. The comparisons more or less end there, but this Hamburg-centric platter is nevertheless an exciting, sonically eclectic collection.
The Brunn contribution isn’t strictly new — a live take of “Developers Developers” from 2005’s “Music Under Pin EP.” A vibrant update heaped with the sort of gooey textures that weakened knees on Songs From The Beehive, this shouldn’t be chucked aside as some completist-only rough cut. As with the original, the delay-augmented twists of Brunn’s Nord Modular synth tones are what stand out most. This time, though, Brunn takes us to places less ominous and droning, instead achieving a colorful, elastic dynamism that’s up there with the best of his work. On the flip, the metallic, crashing percussion of Maerz’s “Garish” builds to a pounding din, lays in a choppy, surging melody, and then piles on more jerky percussion. Heavy on rapid hi-hat and furious cymbals, its approach is maximal and its appeal primal. About four minutes in, though, the air clears and, like a sun break, a warm house groove emerges. It’s a relieving moment of levity, but the smacking percussion and anxious synth blurbs are gradually reintroduced for a necessarily sweaty finish. Christopher Rau follows with more of a back room mood, built around a dusty loop of melancholy keys. The rhythm track keeps it simple, but a haphazard jumble of further piano samples brings a raw, jazzy looseness to this commendable track. Count me in for Dérive 02!