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V/A - Dancer

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Artist: V/A

Album: Dancer

Label: Italic

Review date: Oct. 3, 2002

Germany is well known as an epicenter for elektronik musik. From subterranean dub to the most spastic IDM, Germany has it all (including some limited white-labels and 3” CD remixes). The myriad of record labels is staggering: Kompakt, A-Musik, Tomlab, Force-Inc., Staubgold, Bpitch Control, Basic Channel, Bungalow, Morr Music, Din, Disko B, Harvest, Karaoke Kalk, Klang Elektronik, Kanzleramt, Playhouse, ~scape, Sonig, Source, Tresor... The list could go on from here to Düsseldorf.

Despite a roster deeper than the 1927 Yankees, one more German techno label wants in on the fun: Italic, a Cologne-based house imprint. And party-people would be best-served to let them in, show them the decks and get out of their way.

Italic specializes in a minimalist house aesthetic with serious pop appeal, somewhere between Kompakt and Kanzleramt. These boys don’t care about your IQ or your politics; they just want you on the floor between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., dancing like you don’t have to get up in the morning. It’s refreshing to hear such an abashed, hedonistic attitude without a glo-stick prerequisite.

Italic’s artists are no strangers to the German club scene. The label has released 18 12”’s since its inception in 1999, including 10 by Antonelli Electr. (a.k.a. Stefan Schwander), as well as a few double LPs. Now, Italic presents Dancer, their first CD-only release and the beginning of a series called The Dance Collection. Is it clear yet they like to dance?

If not, it will be after a few listens to Dancer. All of these tracks consist of crisp, digital sounds that revolve around strict four-to-the-floor beats. The detached feel is completely inorganic and extremely urban. Listening to Dancer alone, or on headphones is fun, but defeats the music’s purpose. Nuances exist, mind you, but this compilation was not created with close-listening in mind; Dancer is a backdrop for barstool banter, Cognac-induced come-ons and close encounters of the blurred kind. And an excellent one at that.

Most of the tracks on Dancer radiate a seductive, icy allure. Soda’s “Sounds Like” chugs along at 120 bpm with beacons of dub interspersed among the steady high-hat and bass thump. A Rocket In Dub’s three contributions, “Rocket No. 3”, “Rocket No. 0” and “Rocket No. 2” slow things down a bit and provide welcome respites in between the harder house tracks. Borneo & Sporenburg’s “Gold” mixes in a steady dose of melodic bass and scintillating synths that never wears itself out.

The certified hit here is Antonelli Electr.’s “The Vogue”, featuring Miss Kittin on vocals. The lyrics are kitschy, the bass is goofy, and synthesized vox ups the cheese factor to a whole other level. In other words, it’s perfect for those drunken, doped up nights downtown.

You don’t have to check your mind at the door to enjoy Dancer, but don’t let it keep your head from earning that hangover it so richly deserves. Drink up. It’s on Italic.

By Otis Hart

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