Review: Dim DJ – DimDJ TH04 (TH Tar Hallow)

Despite a couple of name checks from people I respect, the work of Greek producer Dim DJ has mostly – with the exception of a pretty fine EP on Lower Parts a couple of years ago – passed me by. That’s a little bit embarrassing for me to admit because the fact is that his music seems to come preloaded with just the right mix of stuff to push my buttons. The Lower Parts record, Endless, contained the sort of loose, spiraling grooves that evoked the ghosts of IDM and acid before setting them free across the wide open vistas of a sort of ambient techno that was predicated on complexities of rhythm rather than static textures.

Alighting now on Dutch label TH Tar Hallow (who we last saw around the parts with the brutal acid storm of Klankman’s Klankman EP), Dim DJ takes those same elements but has allowed more warmth and fun to speckle the proceedings. There are many familiar elements here: Exploratory acid, Detroit-esque symphony, and dirty, lowdown beats. But while it’s easy to point to the various sounds, Dim DJ’s skill here is in never letting himself become beholden to them.

It’s a tougher record than the Lower Parts one, at least on early, passing, listens, and it’s easy at first to feel that TH04 is defined by a straighter application of functional grooves than before. Certainly the bangers, the moody, corkscrewing odyssey of Rats & Snakes Kill , or Kuno’s sublime remix of PTN1, dominate at first, especially in the way Kuno takes the original and phase shifts it away from its Detroit beginnings and into a realm of smoke and shadow, jacking beats and coiled, lascivious, acid lines that modulate and burn with intent.

Those tracks, as great as they are, are only a single facet and the real pleasure lies in the playful heat the permeates everything. It heightens the heaviness, colours the atmosphere, opens up the horizon to possibility. Computer Beats rolls with a basic build, but channels something of Steve Poindexter’s flare for drawing shade and light out of a limited palette, almost replacing frequencies with nervy, giggly, vitality. The original mix of PTN1 slants the funk, pulling away from the more obvious destination and focusing on the journey, and its joyous, dappled textures.

The Pope at record’s end, is the real deal, a slice of shimmering high-tech funk that draws heavily on the dizzy grooves of classic Transmat and Metroplex tunes and compresses them down into a tight blast of Detroit sunshine that grows ever more insistent with its nagging, joyful melody and bouncing, understated beats. Like a blast of summer made sound, and a perfect closer for a record that both confounds and exceeds expectations. Top stuff.