Send me your track


Robag Wruhme - Thora Vukk


Gabor Schablitzki aka Robag Wruhme aka Wighnomy Brothers has been slyly spiking minimal techno with a dangerous injection of fun for the last ten years. This is relative, of course: there probably aren’t many people who recall shaking with laughter at the amusingly-constructed compound words of his track titles, or collapsing into uncontrollable hysterics when an off-kilter bassline or odd fart sound drifted in from the leftfield at midday in some German warehouse. Still, it was something.

But however entertaining earlier output was, more recently Robag Wruhme has started to show a more introspective side, and 2011 has seen a couple of releases stretching out into focused and emotional territory. The excellent Wuppdeckmischmampflow mix was a trip through a fairly wide cross-section of tech-house, heavily re-edited to make a super-smooth home listening experience. And Thora Vukk is a more than worthy continuation of this new approach, adding considerable depth and feeling to the Wighnomy / Wruhme sound.

It’s a shame the pretentious format of the album detracts somewhat from this. There are seven actual tracks with five further “bridges”, and it doesn’t require an immense metaphorical leap to presume that these are meant to be links. But they come across as mere filler sketches, just enough to be noticed but nowhere near long enough to build any kind of meaningful presence. The third bridge, imaginatively titled Brucke Drei, is probably the best, a glacial drone that it would be pleasant to hear extended from a single minute. At least then that would dispel the nagging feeling that the bridges were just added to pad out the album to LP length.

Luckily, the remaining seven-track (mini?) album is truly excellent. The core palette is present and correct: crisply processed samples of various plinks and occasional plonks added to imaginatively-programmed bottom ends. But these are now not put to service just for dancefloor kicks, but as a base for some interesting experiments with new sounds: piano, untreated vocals, babies. Opener “Wupp Dek” slips a cheeky trumpet, snatches of a vocal, and a swarming insectoid drone over a mournful piano and syncopated jazz-house drums, before fading out nearly club-ready. And perhaps most interestingly? It works.

At a stretch some of these tunes could work a floor. “Bommsen Boff” is almost straight-down-the-line post-dubstep techno, and the shuffling woodblock of “Pnom Gobal” and the propulsive “Prognosen Bomm” might have banger status if they weren’t interrupted by meandering strings and piano and a complete mid-tune glitch collapse respectively.

But it’s the most openly emotional parts of this album that resonate most. When “Pnom Gobal” isn’t dancing, it’s wistful, and for a tune whose base elements could class it as mere minimal, the title track is wonderfully bittersweet. Finally, closing track “Ende” transcends its simple source material (“la la la”, maracas) to create something truly special; a paean to innocence and wonder that reveals more each listen.

Indeed, that’s a decent summary of the album as a whole. It seems Robag Wruhme’s undoubted technical talents that initially led to head-turning minimal have matured into something deeper and ultimately far more long-lived, without fully letting go of the dancefloor. It’s a great move, and Thora Vukk is a great album because of it.

Sam Stagg

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