Christian Löffler: A Forest (Ki Records)
The pastoral combination of delicate IDM, dancefloor motifs, and songs that comprise A Forest make it an overlooked gem of 2012 for me. I stumbled onto it via Kompakt’s best of 2012 list early this year, and while it’s taken some time to put this earworm into words, it’s certainly a good one. The mots obvious comparison I can’t help but draw is to Trentemøller’s superb 2006 album, The Last Resort. It shares that album’s left turns into gorgeous headphones listening as well as well-crafted songs aimed at the dancefloor as much as the heart. Most of the album is instrumental, but Löffler’s melodic sensibility is usually quite lyrical in its own right. From the opening effects of the title cut it’s clear that Löffler has a talent for crafting sound in the most delicate ways. Everything sounds in its right place, little synth filters and details weaving in and out of each other with a keen sense of space. There are a couple tracks that slow the tempo down away from the dancefloor, but this helps give the album a nice pacing; “Pale Skin” has the fragile beauty of an Ulrich Schnauss track, while “Swift Code” is a beatless one. But typically Löffler keeps at least one foot on the dancefloor, with a kick drum anchoring most tracks, and that straddling of worlds — that of moving the body and moving the mind — is what makes A Forest such a thoroughly satisfying listen from start to finish.