Kabale Und Liebe: Realitivity
Soweso Records

Realitivity, the debut album from Kabale und Liebe (real name Liron van Daalen), is a largely successful set of classic techno by the DJ-producer on Soweso, the imprint Daalen established in 2009 with fellow Dutchman Lauhaus, though it's not without flaws. Daalen, who's issued music on Rush Hour, Souvenir, Rejected, and Strictly Rhythm, changes things up on the new release by switching from software-based music programming to working exclusively with hardware and by recording the material in one take via his analogue mixing desk. As a result, the music, though produced in the studio, exudes a refreshingly raw feel and exuberance characteristic of a live set.

In an album artist move that's become rather too familiar, Realitivity begins with an ambient scene-setter (“Intro to Mindmanifest”) before getting down to business with the more representative “The Hunter,” a steamy techno workout whose fleet-footed shuffle possesses more than its share of bounce and jump, and “Dim,” a synth-wired house jam powered by a heaving bass pulse. The later cuts “Sammy Hoboken” and “Nordlove (Instrumental Version)” capture the Kabale und Liebe sound in glorious free flight, with Daalen sweetening their percolating grooves with sweeping, Detroit-styled strings. And one shouldn't overlook “1535'08 10,” whose old-school electro-bass funk allows the listener to exit the album on a high.

To a greater degree than many a techno album, Realitivity is less geared for home listening and more for the club. It makes little sense, for example, to merely listen to a ten-minute cut such as “The Hunter” when its hard-grooving swing is clearly designed with the dancefloor in mind. That said, Daalen often enhances the material with artful touches, cases in point the soulful vocal accents that surface during “Dim,” the organ solo that appears alongside synth squiggles in “Sammy Hoboken,” and the call-and-response that occurs between string figures and house chords during “Nordlove (Instrumental Version).”

To his credit, Daalen adds colour to his techno productions by threading other styles and elements into the material: a subtle African undercurrent is present in the rhythmic drive of “Bats ‘N Butterflies,” while “Lima Sweet Dreams” presents a solid stab at electro-funk. But as mentioned, the album isn't perfect: the voiceover in “Bats ‘N Butterflies” is marred by the application of unnecessary vocal manipulations when an undoctored presentation would be more effective, and the less said about the recording's biggest misstep, “Fat'ish' Ass (Twerk Track),” the better. Its booty-bass pulse isn't the problem; it's the lyrics: if lines such as “I like the way your booty tastes,” “freaky, freaky, freaky, freaky,” and “twerk it, twerk it, twerk it, twerk it” look cringe-worthy on paper, they're worse when heard in the context of the song. This otherwise strong album is marred by its presence and would be significantly better with it removed.

June 2014