lex Kruger, aka Dub Taylor, returns with his third full length under this particular moniker and one needs only read the label on the back of the release to know what to expect. The pop-house direction of Force Tracks in recent releases has been one that has seen numerous highs, but, at the same time, seems to be heading towards a dead end for some of its producers. For more and more of the Digital Disco practitioners, the proper setting for this sort of music is the home, listening on headphones or even sitting down for a nice dinner party. And while context isn’t very important to the enjoyment of a strong musical release (as long as you can find the proper place for your enjoyment should it matter where anyone else’s is?), the producers of this music might be shocked to find what they deem to be built directly for the dancefloor is burning up the dinner table, as well.
Needless to say, with the imminent release of the second Digital Disco compilation, the genre is coming to the end of one stage of its development. It can be argued, persuasively, then, that Experience and The Present Lover, then, are the perfection of this particular strain of digital disco. The statements that define a certain aesthetic. So: before we ask where to go from here- let’s examine exactly where here is.
“Ko-Hi-Nomitai,” for instance, has shards of synths cutting and piercing the thin basis of the track’s underlying structure, which soon occupies an uneasy balance with the micro-melodies and chugging bass. Far from the gloop of Kompakt’s more ambient-inclined techno-eroticism, this song is overtly sexual- pushing back and forth, ready for the body to jack, rather than sway. “Ko-Hi-Nomitai” goes the refrain and while it’s unclear what that exactly means, it is clear that it demands response. Renya’s vocals add that much needed extra element to the already packed track that pushes it from merely strong to ecstatic dance-floor anthem.
Anthems, on this release at least, occur when there are vocals added to the mix. Kruger’s expert ability to meld the track to a particular vocal style and charm is second only to Vladislav Delay’s production trickery. Kruger, however, doesn’t allow much treatment to be applied, instead opting for the singer to come out naturally and without digital effects. This is, perhaps, why Luomo’s productions could never be considered the types of anthems that Kruger is producing. Unharried by subtlety, Kruger goes straight for the heart and the body, rather than the mind. The final track with significant vocals here is “Your Soul.” It features the lovely Vital on vocals and judging by her contribution, if Timbaland and MRI were still looking, the new Aaliyah has been found.
Following the aforementioned “Ko-Hi-Nomitai” is perhaps the template for digital disco- “Blow.” The track sputters it’s beginning melodic salvo, which is soon brought into focus by the structure of a distinct house beat. The rhythm piles on additional flourishes- an electronic brushstroke here, a microsecond-long modem there- into its evolving construction, all the while allowing for the overlay of an insistent refrained melody of five notes. As soon as it becomes clear that this construction has been brought forth effortlessly, things begin to drop out, other elements multiply- the winding, sinuous path of the track makes its way towards crest, valley and ultimate climax. This sort of description could be used for a large portion of the tracks here.
And that’s not a bad thing, considering the area that Kruger is plotting out is one that is ultimately foreign and intimately familiar at the same time. The movement that Kruger has been become a part of- pop-house/digital disco- is one that is nearing the end of its infancy stage. A certain perfection of form has been achieved, evidenced by the sort of dinner party aplomb that both The Perfect Lover and Experience exhibit. Time will only tell whether this genre will go further into sit-down coffee-table ambience or into paths untold. It’s certain that I’ll be listening.