lter Ego are, simply put, legends in the German electronic scene. Despite the fact that the English had been doing it for years, the duo, composed of Roman Flügel and Jörn Elling Wuttke, produced what is arguably the first home listening electronic record in Germany. But that’s not to say that the two hasn’t always kept a firm eye on the dancefloor. To the contrary, earlier this year the electro-burner “Rocker” made its appearance to delighted club goers. The imminent re-release of it in 12” form on the Skint label and its inclusion on the first album done by the two under the Alter Ego moniker in nearly eight years has revitalized interest in the German duo.
Perhaps Mr. Oizo updated for the digital age would be the most apt description for the track, Transphormer’s first single. “Rocker” received limited release at the beginning of the year, but was soon picked up after those limited releases got into the hands of seemingly every single DJ playing at Glasto or Sonar.
Unfortunately, there’s little reason to cheer for the full album’s release because it does little to justify itself outside of offering lesser works based on the sonic template set forth by “Rocker”. “Tubeaction” utilizes the same curling acidic melodic line, with additional panning effects added for good measure, but does little to excite, while “Daktari’ and “Vincent Van Dance” are a collective fifteen minute mid-album momentum killer and “Nasty Dollars” has to be one of the most annoying glam-shuffle tracks ever committed to tape. “Raw”, for good measure, reverts back to the sound of “Rocker” again, but nearly evades detection because of its placement near the end of the album.
And while much of the album is a disappointment, especially considering the past successes of the two together in incarnations like Acid Jesus and Sensorama, all is not lost here. “Satanic Circus” redeems the duo’s shuffle misstep and seems to focus all of its mistakes in a pummeling ferocity, while the closing title track changes little from its 12” version from 2002, but still sounds as fresh as ever.
But the inevitable feeling that one gets after listening to Transphormer is a palpable disappointment. For a group as obviously talented (“Rocker” and a whole host of others singles being the rule, rather than the exception) and influential, Transphormer fails to live up to the understandable expectations that would be attached to it. It’s good, but not the great that we’ve come to expect.