Solomun: Dance Baby

A more-than-impressive debut long-player from Solomun (Bosnian-born Croatian Mladen Solomun), who's established himself as a DJ and producer of some renown and as the steward for the Hamburg-based Diynamic imprint. What distinguishes Cloud Dancer most are the delectable strains of soul and funk that run throughout the album's finely-crafted house tracks.

In an opening track whose light-hearted spirit can't camoulfage the artfulness of its construction, “Country Song” rolls out a jaunty, clap-happy jack goosed by a cycling, one-bar bass line and occasional smatterings of countrified vocals offset by funkier vocal interjections. It's a strong opener but dwarfed by the tight funk-house of “Cloud Dancer,” which gets a serious groove on by wedding a soulful lead vocal to an effervescent attack (the vocal refrain “I'm a cloud … dancer” can't help but call to mind “She's a brick… house ” from The Commodores' hit). Soulful vocals also boost “Hypnotize” though it's the silken string stabs, burbling bass, and swizzling house pulse that stand out most of all. Strong too are the classic house workouts “After Rain Comes Sun,” whose syncopated chords Solomun powers with cello and violin melodies, and “Forever,” which the producer whips into a transporting blaze of voice whispers and epic synthetic fire. Elsewhere, “Deep Circus” sweetens its jakbeat-styled house with funk and bleepy elements, and “Deja-Vu” casts an affectionate eye upon house's Chicago roots.

Eleven cuts, then, and not a throwaway in the bunch. The quality level is consistently high, with each piece impressing as a self-contained jewel that Solomun polishes to perfection before moving on to the next.

December 2009