Markus Guentner: Lovely Society

No ambient affair this time ‘round for Regensburg's number one export Markus Guentner. Instead of meditative collections like In Moll and 1981, Lovely Society, his second Ware album, opts for dreamy club tracks. Minimal house cuts like “All the Time” and “Something About You” receive a considerable boost from their vocal hooks, with a sweetly sparkling title recitation in the first and a low growl in the punchier second proving equally sweet. The downside is that more atmospheric pieces (“Soften Edges”) and bangers (“Back in the Days”) start to sound generic by comparison. Harder-hitting club stompers like “Swap” and the acidy “On My Mind” and Ziggy Kinder's infectiously grooving remix of “Options 2,” on the other hand, prove that Guentner's material holds up fine in the absence of vocals (and the typewriter groove used to spark “Never Want to Stop Playing That Game” is cool too). In the long run, though, while much of the album is strong, its impact is diminished by an overlong 74-minute length and unnecessary additions like Renato Figoli's mechano-glitch treatment of “All the Time.” Shave a few minutes here and there (an eleven-minute “Never Want to Stop Playing That Game”?) and omit a track or two and Lovely Society might make a perfect 50-minute disc.

April 2006