Marcel Dettmann: Dettmann II (Ostgut-Ton)
Marcel Dettmann’s second album continues his trajectory of deep, slick minimal techno. It starts off with a murmur in “Arise,” a prologue to the aptly named following track, “Throb.” With that a pervasive kick drum launches things into motion, and the track does just what it says it will, throbbing with a repetitive and constant synth pattern over the span of five and a half minutes. That Dettmann never introduces a single other drum sound in this one is surprisingly effective, letting modulation on the synth drive the entire track. Such is Dettmann’s modus operandi, putting the “minimal” in “minimal techno” with no qualms or frills. He reduces his arrangements to the bare essentials and treats every detail with attention. It’s not all completely severe, though, either; Dettmann breaks up the album with some interludes that are a welcome diversion as well as one obvious standout track that breaks away from the 4/4 kick. “Seduction” is a collaboration with vocalist Emika and is easily the highlight of the tracklist, positioned smartly in the center of the album. It’s built around punchy irregular kicks and Emika’s floating, ghostly vocal, recalling some of the more abstract tracks on Dettmann’s first album. My other favorite track is “Lightworks,” revolving around a startlingly melodic, dark synth pattern while some more subtle details propel it forward at a patient but steady clip. Elsewhere, beatless interludes like “Shiver,” “Stranger,” and “Outback” add some depth and contrast to the album’s sequence to great effect. Because Dettmann’s aesthetic tends to be quite minimal, I would say it’s not for everyone. But for techno enthusiasts, I think Dettmann II is almost as pure as it gets.