Stephan Bodzin Vs Marc Romboy: Luna

Stephan Bodzin and Marc Romboy, the respective heads of Systematic Recordings and Herzblut Recordings, join forces for a mammoth three-part project (available as three CDs or in a six-record vinyl set) that's been in the works since 2005. If that sounds like an overly long gestation period, consider what Luna includes: an eighty-minute disc containing eleven originals; a remix disc that finds those tracks (and more) made over by producers like Minilogue, Stimming, Joris Voorn, Dominik Eulberg, Martin Buttrich, and Speedy J; and an MP3 CD that, incredibly, runs almost three-and-a-half hours and adds Moritz von Oswald, Roman Flügel, Gui Boratto, and Abe Duque to the remixers list. The recording is clearly a labour of love for Bodzin and Romboy, something further evidenced by the fact that Luna is both the name of Romboy's daughter and Bodzin's wife.

Precision-tooled cuts such as “Triton,” “Luna,” and “Atlas” suggest that some of Booka Shade's special brand of DNA has snuck its way into Bodzin and Romboy's sleek productions; in those cases, we hear a focus on syncopated melodies, chunky synth chords, and swelling grooves of the kind that we also encounter in the work of the Get Physical duo. “Triton,” one such example, gradually builds in intensity as a low-end bass pulse thickens and a catchy three-note motif repeats until a melodic upturn introduces a trippy twist. It's eight minutes of slow-burning splendour that bodes well for the ride ahead, and a high-spirited, clap-happy jam like “Atlas” soon enough makes good on the opener's promise. The duo infuse their oft-funky techno (check out the jacking pulses thumping through “Ferdinand” and “Telesto”) with a powerful forward drive that makes them feel like they're always hurtling forward and growing ever more inflamed as they do so. Even when heard in their “Synthapella” form (sans beats or percussion parts, that is), “Callisto” and “Phobos” leave strong impressions for the insistence of their synth-swollen builds.

As good as the first disc is, it's the release's other parts that prove to be the most satisfying for the multiple ways by which the duo's material gets roughed up by the remixers (something easier to calibrate when the second part often pairs the Bodzin-Romboy original with a remix version). The middle disc's clubby set gets underway with Minilogue's fleet-footed take on “Hydra,” its burbling IDM-techno groove punctuated by shotgun cracks, and then moves onto Stimming's loping “Hyperion” before achieving lift-off with a blended Joris Voorn-and-Dominik Eulberg “Callisto” overhaul that roars so magnificently it very well could be the remix set's prime cut. “The Alchemist” appears towards the end of the mix set as a funky Bodzin-Romboy production first and then as a swinging “Kopakkmuuf-Rekksmo” version courtesy of Robag Wruhme before a chilled reprise of Minilogue's “Hydra” eases us out. Mention also must be made of the stoked remixes of “Puck” and “Telesto” by Chris Liebing and Martin Buttrich.

Featuring the work of more than twenty producers (as well as three “Synthapella” treatments), the MP3 collection reprises the remixes included in the second part but now presents them as stand-alones augmented by other producers' treatments (Gregor Tresher, Mutant Clan, Ribn, Brendon Moeller, Gaiser, Oliver Huntemann, etc.). Moritz von Oswald (Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound) opens the proceedings on a high note with a deep dub-wise take on “Phobos” that finds the track swimming in a sea of panning fizz and animated by a thudding kick pattern. Voorn's “Callisto” version sounds just as fabulous here as it does within the mix, with its euphoric rave vibe and ferocious swing a perfect fit for the Bodzin-Romboy original, and Eulberg's own “Callisto” version isn't far behind. Moeller gives his jacking backbeat-driven “Pandora” a rave-ready treatment too, Gui Boratto delivers a jubilantly thumping “Atlas” treatment that's memorably kicked along by a greasy guitar lick, and “Atlas,” “Triton,” “Ferdinand,” and “The Alchemist” get funky makeovers by Gorge, Gaiser, Gregor Tresher, and Roman Flügel, respectively. The most long-winded of the contributors is clearly Minilogue, whose “Hydra” stretches out into a twenty-six-minute journey. As credible as such pieces are, they can't help but feel like they're vying for second prize when heard next to Voorn's stormer. Even so, no one should be grumbling too much when the release's third part serves up such a wealth of quality music.

April 2011