Discussion of this record elsewhere has pondered whether this end of the year release from Giegling sub-label Traumprinz is in fact invisible deep techno poster boy/girl Prince Of Denmark (AKA Traumprinz) under a new guise. Certainly there are plenty of similarities between the three points of the trinity; the detached snippets of soul vocals, the fat clouds of synths and the drums, alternating between careful, crystalline and cavernous; an overarching aesthetic and sonic approach that has been applied to both house music (as Traumprinz) and techno with success.
While U’ll Be The King Of The Stars takes that same dreamlike sound as a starting point, it pulls away into a much more nostalgic trip than is usual. Specifically, it’s the early nineties that are revisited here, and while the record is closer to the Traumprinz approach to house the it is to the colder washes of PoD’s techno, it sets up in another corner of the yard. Rave, ambient techno and scatterings of break beat are doused with the trademark sauce and the effect is interesting in the way it seems to soften the rough edges of those distant genres. What is also interesting is that it is reminiscent of the very early days, when an underground record could well end up on Top of The Pops. There is a lightness prevalent in the music, suggestive of a need to match mood to the influences perhaps, which moves it further from the common ground.
Whether this entirely works is obviously a question each listener will have to decide for themselves. For sure, Oh Ah and U’ll Be The King Of The Stars – the two proper big hitters on the record – capture the feel of some of the early experiments with house and trippy ambient textures expertly whilst remaining utterly modern. And yet both feel slightly off, as if they’re wearing clothes tailored for someone else. Oh Ah is an endless, trancey odyssey that fluctuates almost imperceptibly across its length, U’ll Be The King Of The Stars , more immediate and alive but both tug less at the heart-strings than at a nag of nostalgia. They are deep and pretty, but they aren’t beautiful. They’re too knowing for that.
Better are Ravechild and The Colour (Sad Sad Euphoria Break Beat Mix) which move things up a gear. Ravechild, in particular, is a lot of fun. It also benefits by kicking the trademark aesthetic wash into the background. The breaks are thick and lively, the pads and descending synth line in just the right place to seduce; the vocal designed to shimmer in the strobes of a midnight club. And while The Colour settles back into more familiar territory, it does so with a warmth of real emotion, lacking only Ravechild’s iridescent nous.
It’s a curious record, and one that does better when it departs from what we expect. It is telling that it all comes together best on Ravechild where the tricks – and much of the deepness – are kept in check, allowing the airiness, and even a poppy vibe, to come to the surface. It’s this lightness of touch that U’ll Be The King Of The Stars could do with a little more of, for much of it seems to holding back on a lot of the joy that is just bubbling below the surface.