So Far So Super (Kompakt)
Schaufler first made a real impression on me as Superpitcher right
around the turn of the century, when Kompakt was burgeoning from a
smaller curiosity to more of an outright minimal techno powerhouse.
His contributions to Kompakt’s compilations (their annual Total
series and the particularly spectacular and timely shuffle comp,
Schaffelfieber) got my attention enough to check out his EPs, a
curious blend of techy cool and something smokier, more languid,
slinkier. It’s evident in the patient, almost stately stride of
“Tomorrow,” a fan favorite from his first EP, Heroin; it has an
infectious chorus and yet its tempo is at odds with most other
Kompakt tunes of its time, moving at a much slower, buoyant clip.
I’ve always enjoyed his almost awkward mix of vocals and production,
splitting the difference between big dancefloor burners and more
intimate bedroom pop. So Far So Super is an overdue retrospective of
Schaufler’s career, pulling together many of his scattered
compilation appearances and best bits into one 80 minute collection.
It starts with “Jackson,” one of his Pop Ambient contributions,
beatless and dreamy, perfect as a prologue to his more rhythmic
tracks to follow. The closest things to classics here would be
“Heroin,” “Happiness,” and “Tomorrow,” all of which
appeared on vinyl releases. He was also wise to include “People,”
the opening cut from his first full-length Here Comes Love, easily
one of the best tracks of his entire œuvre. As it happens, I found
Here Comes Love to be slightly disappointing, focusing more on spare
productions hanging out in that mid-tempo range and only occasionally
dipping into straight-up dance music; “People” is the best dance
track of the bunch. Its refrain hook perfectly captures that
melancholy dance music intersection that Kompakt and its kindred
contemporaries have focused on so successfully.
There are a couple
cuts from Kilimanjaro, his second full-length (the single “Rabbits
In a Hurry” and “Voodoo”), but the real gems here are the comp
tracks that are collected in one place, seeing as to how many of
those releases are long out of print. “Grace” goes all the way
back to the very first Speicher 12”, released in 2000 with other
exclusives from Kompakt bosses Wolfgang Voigt (aka Auftrieb), Michael
Mayer, and Jürgen Paape. Other various one-offs find their way here,
including the clean melodic techno of “Mushroom” and his goofy
cover of “Baby’s On Fire” (found on Total 5 & 4,
respectively), and I find myself wishing that he’d skipped the
Kilimanjaro tracks to include his other Total appearances — where
are “Tell Me About It,” “Tonite,” “Rainy Nights in
Georgia”? It seems like a missed opportunity to pull together so
many great tracks that are only available on those compilations.
However, despite those absences (and knowing that most of the more
recent Total comps are available to stream), So Far So Super is a
solid grouping of Superpitcher efforts, capped off by the inclusion
of his rousing shufflebeat remix of Quarks’ “I Walk,” a pop remix
that appeared on vinyl in the expansive Speicher series in 2002.
Highly recommended for those who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing
many of these cuts, as well as for fans who might have forgotten just
how great Schaufler’s music can be.