Domink Eulberg: Bionik

Pig & Dan: Imagine

Dominik Eulberg is clearly an unusual character: currently studying Biology and Geography in Bonn, he sometimes works as a—wait for it—National Park Ranger. Listeners familiar with his recent Traum collection Heimische Gefilde (Native Habitat) will already be aware of his intimate relationship with nature, and Bionik, contrary to its automated title, is similarly connected to the outdoors, though to a lesser degree than its precursor. Chirping birds occasionally appear but the album's ten long-form tracks (most seven to eight minutes long) can be enjoyed on purely musical grounds.

“Der Traum Vom Fliegen” (The Dream of Flying) begins the set on a wistful and buoyant note, after which the slinky house raver “Frechte Früchte” takes over. The third track, “Libellenwellen,” is where the recording really takes flight with a gloriously melancholy theme that sounds as if it's being played by tuned bouncing balls powered by a driving minimal techno-funk pulse. Things then turn funkier in “Löwenzahn-Luftwaffe” (Lion Tooth Air Force) when percussive patterns chatter and clang but the cut's slamming groove is eventually trumped by an enticing melody that's every bit as tasty as the one in “Libellenwellen.” Eulberg's tracks are masterfully designed and realized, and manage to be simultaneously lethal club bangers and artfully innovative variations on the genre (steamrolling colossi like “Autopfoten” and “Haifischflügel” and the electro-house raver “Lotuseffeckt” and blissful outro “Rattenscharf” are perfect examples).

The name may not be terribly elegant but Pig & Dan's music certainly is. Partners since 1999 and veterans of numerous productions on their own Submission and Sonic Society labels, Dan Duncan and Igor Tchkotoua excel at crafting immaculate and ultra-tight electro-tech-house tracks that charge with locomotive splendor. It's epic in form and beautiful to boot—though not trance in style, the driving tunes are definitely trance-inducing, and often escalate to psychotropic peaks. Imagine opens with the euphoric “Sweet September” before segueing into the pulsating “Sly Detector” and the party just keeps rolling from then on. “Moths” heads down a minimal path, leaving ample room for its rubbery bass lines to percolate and synth stabs to resound, and “Sympathy for the Devil,” keeping the skeletal fire burning, injects its tech-house groove with dabs of funk and soul. Each track flows into the next, creating a clubby feel, and the material thrusts relentlessly forward without becoming overbearing. Though every track is sophisticated and polished, the overall feel is one of liberation, not claustrophobia or suffocation. Seventy-four minutes might seem like a long time for a “dance” album but, in truth, Imagine is pretty much as good as the genre gets.

January 2008