Trickski: Unreality

Trickski's Unreality features some uncommonly strong material for a debut album, though its impact is diluted by the overly generous number of tracks the Berlin-based house duo of Yannick Labbé and Daniel Becker have chosen to include. Theirs is a soulful and exceptionally well-crafted take on melodic house music that suggests the group would be a natural opening act for Booka Shade.

While “Slowstens” is a decent enough opener in its pairing of simple, jazz-tinged piano playing with a metronomic beat pattern, it hardly foretells the splendour of the song that comes after. And though “Beginning” also begins rather inauspiciously with a shotgun crack resounding against string-laden crackle, it's at this moment that Trickski's most potent brand of voodoo kicks in. Layers are progressively added, first a voice intoning “Beginning” and then a deep bass throb and pounding kick drum-and-hi-hat pulse, with a swinging house feel gradually emerging as the arrangement builds and a soulful vibe enters with the addition of a saxophone-laced episode. In addition to that masterful production, there's the powerful “Good Time to Pray,” a seductive slice of vocal house featuring a soulful turn by Swedish vocalist Ernesto; in keeping with its title, the song lets a subtle dose of gospel seep into its dramatic presentation. At the album's halfway point, Irfane Khan-Acito also delivers a solid vocal during the hard-grooving club-house of “Love's A Beat,” while Labbé and Becker do a passable job as vocalists on the melancholy “Love Song.” The slinky house of the title track also shows them to be as adept at crafting a hypnotic instrumental as they are a vocal piece. However, tracks such as “Basic Tool” and “Jazzmagazine,” while decent, are lesser tracks by comparison and could have been omitted without compromising the album to any serious degree. Unreality isn't strengthened by interludes either—if anything, they dilute the album and make it feel less cohesive (though the funky “Miami Face Interlude” sounds like it deserved to be developed beyond its one-minute running time, as does “PBK Interlude,” whose hip-hop slam hits deliciously hard).

All things considered, there's a lot to recommend Unreality, its production polish for starters. But Labbé and Becker would have been wiser to not overload the album with tracks that don't hit with the same force as more fully-developed pieces such as “Beginning” and “Good Time to Pray”; in short, the album's seventeen tracks might have been better whittled down to something in the order of, say, twelve. What we'd be left with is a tighter and overall stronger package.

August 2011