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V/A - 5zig

V/A - 5zig

Freude am Tanzen

A label that’s been around a lot longer than you might think, Freude am Tanzen celebrate their 50th release with this compilation. Home to such acts as the Wighnomy Bros, Soulphiction and Jackmate, they’ve provided a visible element to the changing German house scene without really making a great impact. It’s difficult to think of a record in their discography that stands out in an individual manner like say, releases on Perlon, Philpot or even Lawrence’s Dial label.  Harsh words, but given the sheer number of labels within this ever-growing scene, definition in the form of good records is all-important.

As one might expect from a label of this type, this compilation is a mixed bag of emotions and textures centred around a consistent 122 - 127 bpm,  from the shuffling minimalism of Daniel Stefanik to the jacking beats of Taron Trekka. There’s no real surprise here if you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground with this sort of stuff. It is however, refined and there are some gems here for fans of this material. 

Opener “Mother Cries” from Kadebostan relies on some beautiful sampled strings for atmosphere and carries it off despite the lack of progression. Marek Hemmann’s “Pictures” similarly uses strings alongside some plucked guitar to good effect and the aforementioned Stefanik’s “Tension in Leipzig” careers about in a looser fashion than others.  Stefan Schultz goes for a 110 bpm house thumper called “Guununk”. Given that it’s slower in tempo, it stands out just because of this, but there’s a refreshing analogue feel to the production as well. 

The start of the show is Robag Wruhme’s “Haftbolle”, which echoes Monolake and F.U.S.E for a timely reminder of how invigorating techno once was. Yet there’s also a lot of dross. Frustratingly, Matthias Kaden tries to ape Recloose with “Red Walls” and fails, whilst tracks from the likes of Monkey Maffia, Douglas Greed and others pass by without so much of a flicker of interest. If the compilation had been reduced to 7 or 8 tracks, then it could have been a lot stronger.

“5zig” has moments of interest, but like their discography, it’s difficult to move away from the perception that they’ve yet to find a producer or sound that really stands out from the crowd. Freude Am Tanzen can certainly put a strong claim in to being one of the first labels to be a part of the German house renaissance of the late nineties, but this compilation only serves to further the notion that they’re not one of the most important.

Toby Frith

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