Marco Carola: Play It Loud!

As it title suggests, Marco Carola's long-player for Minus emphasizes the label's funkier and extroverted side over cool and calculated reserve, and that it does so makes the album—Carola's first full artist album in a decade, Open System on Zenit being the previous one—all the more refreshing. If Play It Loud! feels more like a high-energy mix than standard track-based album, that's the effect Carola was after in shaping the material as he did. Designed to be played (loud, naturally) on a huge sound system, Carola structures it as a DJ set so that the eighteen tracks (ten of them previously unreleased) form a single, seamless flow. So while there are clearly differences that differentiate one piece from the next, the listener experiences the release as an uninterrupted, hard-grooving mix. Carola does have one thing in common with other so-called minimal producers: a propensity for restraint, which shows up in his music in the modest number of sounds included within a given piece, specifically house beats, bass lines, percussion, simple melodic figures, and an occasional voice effect. His tracks are first and foremost about groove, and no more proof is needed than “The Jingle,” a throbbing throwdown that Carola funks up with vocal edits and percussive touches, and “Magic Tribe” and “Light House,” furiously swinging cuts powered by jacking beats and rolling bass lines.

If there's a weakness to the release, it's that, in contrast to the conventional mix disc, Carola's features the music of one artist only and hence the stylistic variety that emerges in a standard mix is absent. Even so, it's something one hardly notices during those moments—and there are many—when seriously funky club bangers such as “Rolling” and the title cut prove to be so infectious. Titles such as “Freak On” and “Groove Catcher” clearly show where Carola's head is at on the release, and the album unfolds with an unstoppable forward momentum that only strengthens its appeal.

April 2011