Roman Flügel: Fatty Folders (Dial)
Roman Flügel is probably best known as one half of the abrasive electro-house/techno duo Alter Ego. The duo were certainly ahead of the curve when they started pumping out aggressive, buzzy, electric dance music, pre-dating the electro-house trend by several years but thankfully being somewhat recognized as veterans when acts like Justice took hold. Flügel seems to have been distilling his sound more and more from a harder sound (2004’s “Geht’s Noch”) to something lighter and more refined, at times throwing back to the early 80s disco sound that’s been mined so effectively by Morgan Geist and his Environ label. The most obvious nod to synthy disco comes on the third track, “Deo,” one of my personal favorites. But much of Fatty Folders can’t be so easily pigeonholed, like the sly minimal groove of “Lush Life Libido” or the Villalobos-esque centerpiece, “The Improviser.” “Bahia Blues Bootcamp” is the most uptempo of them all, a jaunty tune full of personality that sets itself apart from the pack even more than usual. But what’s most lovable about this album are the tracks that comprise what I’d consider its melty center. Scattered throughout the playlist, these tracks all share that certain je ne sais quoi that is simply, utterly Dial. Melody may not be obvious, but its presence is felt, and the ambiance is seductive, sometimes wistful. “How To Spread Lies” was the kick-off single of the album and comes first. It’s one of the album’s strongest moments, and it’s nice to hear it front and center; its complement is in “Softice” toward the end of the album, similarly detailed and delicate but functional on a dancefloor. “Song With Blue” is a more muted track that recalls some of the warm soul of labelmate John Roberts’ dusty house tracks, but with the volume turned down a little, while “Piano Piano,” originally found on the B-side of the “How To Spread Lies” 12", closes it out in introspective style. Roman Flügel continues to wow with his varied approach and stylistic unpredictability, but Fatty Folders is a particularly strong and cohesive group of tracks, splitting the difference between the dancefloor and home listening in the best possible way.