Coma: Famous (Kompakt)
Another top notch single from techno act Coma. The German duo has been releasing singles every now and then since 2009, and much like most of their repertoire, this one crept onto the landscape early this year with little fanfare. It’s a very welcome addition to the Kompakt œuvre as the label appears to be struggling a bit to find its way through the constantly mutating electronic scene, a nice counterpoint to some of the label’s more adventurous if not altogether successful signings like Rainbow Arabia. The three tracks on this 12" are a little more varied than the Crystal 12" that came out in ‘09, but opener “Playground Altona” is not likely to disappoint anyone with a taste for sweetly melodic minimal techno. It has the same delicate beauty by way of the dancefloor that characterizes many of the records on the Dial label (Lawrence, Pantha du Prince, etc.) but is somehow more strident, more streamlined, balanced just right for a pop ear. “Fameless” sits in the center of the playlist and is punchier and even a bit cheeky in its throwback production. The reverbed rhythm section and house piano riffs that carry the track suggest a gentle yearning for the dancepop of yore without ever diving headlong into nostalgia. But the main event here is perhaps the final track, “Raindrops,” which patiently evolves over the course of ten glorious minutes. It shares more in common with the opening cut than the confident pop of “Famous,” built largely around stripped down minimal techno and quiet arpeggiating synths. A sort of mini-hook of the track is a smart sample culled from Erlend Øye’s K7 DJ Kicks release from several years ago, an a capella rendition of Opus III’s “It’s a Fine Day,” cut apart and sparingly used to provide extra momentum to Coma’s track. By the time the track’s fully blown, it’s still quite restrained, with just the right amount of oomph behind its cool and collected veneer. Really excellent stuff, and one of Kompakt’s smartest signings of the decade. That they’ve only released two records on the label in 2+ years is telling — hopefully they continue to be so thoughtful as they add to their repertoire.
Watch/listen: Playground Altona