Marek Hemmann: In Between
Freude Am Tanzen

Marek Hemmann brings some mighty powerful swing to his debut full-length for Jena-based Freude Am Tanzen. The sometime partner of Matthias Kaden pairs found sounds and samples with buoyant beats, synths, guitars, vocal accents, and sax in ten buoyant tech-house tracks that occasionally nod in the directions of deep house, trance, and dub.

Opener “Alias” rolls out an enticing bass bump, dubbed-out horn accents, and a springy 4/4 pulse to get the party moving, after which a galloping groove and dizzying bass line give the lighter-than-air “Kaleido” a jaunty kick, along with declamatory trumpets and ululating vocal fragments that dress it up with exotic colour. Such tracks, decent though they may be, seem like mere teasers when In Between's standouts appear. The major one is “Compass,” a ravishing slice of euphoric techno-trance that's fueled by a gorgeous chord progression, radiant synth flurishes, and a jacking pulse so powerful it could launch a shuttle into space all by itself. Coming in at a close second is “Gemini,” which unleashes a breakneck house swing for nine light-speed minutes and peppers the groove with tenor sax licks that are tasty as they are funky. More exotic atmosphere is added in “Yvette” by way of rapid kalmiba-like melodies and backwards phasing treatments but, like much else on the release, the tune's ultimately more about the snap and kick it gets from its rhythmic thrust. Rather than bringing the album to a limp close, “Down” ends it on a high with a luscious construction that merges sparkling synthetic melancholia with a neon-lit tribal-house groove. Throughout the hour-long disc, Hemmann displays a definite talent for elevating his tracks above mere club workouts. While a passable enough exercise in trance-house shimmer, “Swarm,” for example, fails to generate much heat until, just when you're about to relegate it a second (or third) tier, a simple yet transporting theme surfaces halfway through to save it. As satisfying as it is, it too can't help but pale when heard in the company of “Compass” and “Gemini.”

December 2009