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Steffi - Yours & Mine


Ostgut Ton

There’s a point when “refined” and “tasteful” becomes “boring” and “dull”. Unfortunately within the more esoteric, fashionable realms of electronic dance music, this happens more often than not. Deep House music is one area where the idea of anything a little bit excitable or indeed lively is carefully removed by DJs or musicians to appease their crowd, for the most important thing is the endlessly rolling groove. You don’t want anything unusual or weird coming along to disrupt the party.

House and Techno are functional; once in a while a producer may compose something that lifts it out of this somewhat self-obsessed realm but this is rare. Primarily, modern house music seems to be about finding the right balance between groove and atmosphere, not sounding too populist and with a healthy respect for its traditions. This leads us to Steffi’s debut album. For those who don’t know, she’s been a resident at that high castle of all things important,  Berlin’s Panorama Bar for some time and her endlessly hypnotic sets have brought her much acclaim.  “Yours and Mine” then gives us a chance to find out whether her musical skills can deliver.

As mentioned previously, finding a balance in this sort of music is very important. It’s relatively easy to knock out a basic house track – get yourself the right drum machine (because there rules y’know) , the right sort of tempo (115 – 125 BPM), add a simple bass line, a couple of atmospheric, perhaps even melancholy synth washes and a  simple melody, stretch it out over 7 minutes and there you go. The real skill in this realm comes in producing music that is instantly recognisable as your own from all the dross and that’s where dance music can, if you step back a bit from it, often produce ossifying moments of horrible ennui, because such individuality is so rare.

There’s nothing overtly wrong at all with “Yours and Mine” in terms of its functionality.  In fact, it’s hard to spot a particular weakness in terms of composition across the nine tracks, all being tailored with due care and attention for various times on the dancefloor. All of them have their purpose, whether it be the “not quite a primetime floorsmasher but building up to it” feel of “Piem” or the smoky narcotic “eyes in the back of your head groping for the bar” vibe of “You Own My Mind”, whilst there’s a hint of the Dutch heritage in the raw jacking drive of “Mine”. Yet it’s also difficult to find anything that’s remotely invigorating for the connoisseur or that might lift it out of the humdrum and advance the genre just a little.  This is smooth, considered house music with little or no note out of place. Ultimately that translates as anodyne.

House music has the potential, given the relatively upbeat nature of its purpose, to lift our spirits and to make us feel alive.  It was born out of a raw, pioneering bravura where boundaries were broken. That’s exactly why we dance to it. Although “Yours and Mine” may lay claim to being born in the same sort of spirit, it never seeks to extend those horizons and as such is much the weaker for it.

Toby Frith


Reader Comments (1)

I'd have to agree; "functional" describes this album well.
Though the two closers, "Your Own Mind" and "Moving Lips" work nicely as a pigeon pair in a mix.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpetesrdic

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