Dominik Eulberg: Diorama

One dictionary definition for “Diorama” tells us it's “a scene, often in miniature, reproduced in three dimensions by placing objects, figures, etc., in front of a painted background.” The word makes for an appropriate title (and cover image), then, for Dominik Eulberg's fourth album, given that it takes its inspiration from nature—hardly a surprise for a biology student who was also at one time a forest park ranger. The eleven tracks are devoted to “wonders of domestic nature”—bats, the bee orchid, the glow worm, the Icelandic cyperine, water, and ants— that Eulberg selected with the help of German nature magazine NABU (text clarifying what makes each wonder so great is included in the liner notes) and then rendered in such a way that the music would capture the sound and dynamic of the “wonder” in question.

But don't be mislead by the album's conceptual dimension: Diorama is as often as not a club-oriented album, its tracks built for the dance floor. A prototypical Eulberg set, Diorama is another artful collection of melodic techno (“Wenn Es Perlen Regnet” as fine an example as you'll find) from the producer, and Eulberg covers a lot of stylistic bases on the album while still establishing a unified feel. A trip-hop feel colours the scene-setting opener, “Täuschungs-Blume,” in its blend of subtly funky swing and voice snippets; despite the presence of a heavy snare attack, the tune's an otherwise unassuming start that eases the listener into the album's world. “Echomaus” flirts with Warp-styled IDM in juxtaposing ambient swirls and a driving, acid-techno thump, and even squeezes in some industrial-styled noise-making two-thirds of the way through; it's mostly the grooving pulse, however, that you'll take away from this one. Armed with aggressive breakbeats and chiming keyboards, “3 Millionen Musketiere” brings on old-school rave-styled vibe to the proceedings, while the glorious club-ready anthem “H2O” hits hard too. One of the album's standouts is the stirring “Tanz Der Glühwürmchen,” which exerts an emotional pull on the listener when it elevates a serenading chord progression with bubbly funk and synthetic radiance. Diorama also includes epic techno of a particularly dark kind (“Das Neunauge”), hard-grooving tech-house (“Teddy Tausendtop”), and kinetic space-disco powered by a bubbly bass pulse and strafed by swollen synths (“Islandmuschel 400”). “Metamorphose” ends the set with a pretty piano-based coda that could easily pass for the music accompanying a French film's end credits. Throughout this polished collection, Eulberg elevates his music above the norm by creating full-fledged compositions that include dance-related elements, rather than straight-up beat workouts where groove's the only concern. And when the tracks do move through multiple episodes, they do so without ever losing momentum.

May 2011