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Break SL - City Wasteland


Sebastian Lohse has quickly risen to the fore in the current wave of abstract house producers emerging out of Germany. Two 12”s, both of which appear on this LP, gave notice of his luxurious, off-kilter soundscapes, and we now have a full-length piece to accompany them. And for want of a better description, it’s a piece that demands your attention. Lohse’s first release, “Trombone”, appeared in 2007, a 13 minute epic of Villalobos-esque meandering brass that didn’t fall prey to the Chilean’s tendency to scatter his production across the sound-spectrum, instead concentrating on a handful of sources, all lightly treated with a murky touch in the studio that gave it character.

That aesthetic carries on here, not least with the ambiguous atmosphere of the album’s opener “Weird Dancer”, suffusing elastic frequencies with rubbery, shuffling beats to produce a subtle musical pathway into his world. Whilst it would be somewhat gratifying for Herr Lohse to hear that his album title does give an approximate musical imagination of a broken city wasteland, if anything, his production techniques do have hidden away the feeling that his equipment is on the edge of malfunctioning. There’s hiss, the sound of drum machines deteriorating ever so slightly, and the Theo Parrish-esque attitude to sampling that gives it a live feel. The debt to Parrish and Dixon Jr is heavy, but to his credit, whilst we can probably forget the Detroit-laden “Kids” (far too much like friendly children for my liking) and “My Love is 4 U”, there’s a expansive nod to the likes of John Beltran and Kirk De Giorgio with “Break It”. It’s a taut, funky number that contrasts nicely against the gaunt, shuffling atmosphere of the rest of the album. Recent single “Laguna Seca” is hypnotic, synth-laden house at its best, whilst “Slowmotion” is the sort of 4am narcotic house that you can only listen to with your eyes closed - a sensual melody hovers in the background, Lohse carefully retaining tension in the music without resorting to bringing it to a climax. This kinetic energy is retained for the floundering noise that pervades the aforementioned “Trombone”, and it’s where his talents seem to come to the fore. The album comes to a close with “Move”, which ups the tempo slightly with a melodic trope, and the downtempo funk of “Searching”.

Like many albums of this nature, this is more of a selection of tracks rather than a cohesive narrative, but Lohse’s productions are mutating and maturing nicely. His production aesthetic isn’t new, but he seems to have grasped at an early age some of the more subtle techniques for the genre, and has already begun to show that he is a star for the future.

Toby Frith

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