Andreas Henneberg: Mountain
3000 Grad Records

Andreas Henneberg is somewhat of a rarity on a number of counts. He was born, raised, and still lives in Berlin but his seventeen-track Mountain is hardly a typical exercise in Berlin house. It's also unusual for being his debut solo album, despite his having amassed seventeen years of experience working since the mid-‘90s as a producer, label owner (his record label Voltage Musique is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary), mastering-engineer, and DJ. In creating the album material, Henneberg also produced the interludes, intro, and outro first rather than after the main tracks were completed, three of which feature contributions from Fabian Reichelt, Avishay Balter, and Eitan Reiter.

Henneberg keeps things interesting by regularly changing up styles—house, funk, and tech-house among them—and working in different instrument sounds, such as the electric guitars that help put some distance between “Daddy” and the other cuts. The album's first high point comes three songs in when “Fallin” (featuring Reichelt) pairs a potent vocal hook (“Since you've been gone…”) with an insistent, hard-grooving backdrop, making for a soaring track that lingers in memory long after the recording's over; Reichelt later resurfaces for another strong vocal track, this time the bluesier “No Place To Hide” (“I'm a dead man walking…”). “Waiting in the Weeds” also proves memorable for the way it cranks a sleazy vocal riff and clockwork tech-house pulse with psychedelic wind-ups, plus there are swinging dance cuts (“Stopped,” the Arabian-themed “Switchback”), synthesizer workouts (the playful “Interlude One,” comparatively epic “Interlude Three,” and funky outro “All the Good Things”), and irreverent stutterers (“Let's Talk About That”).

A great deal of care was taken in the production process, with Henneberg having brought every piece to an impressive degree of polish and resolution; in fact, the tracks are so carefully structured, they're as much formal songs as club tracks. He's also resisted the seductive pull of fashionable trends to forge his own path and present what amounts to a highly personalized take on the dancefloor genre. Finally, Mountain is stylistically diverse yet feels homogenous due to the thoughtful sequencing Henneberg applied to the project. There's a lot to digest in the seventeen songs, but the investment of time and attention pays off.

August-September 2013