fter having lurked beneath the shadows of the already shadowy Dial Empire for a few years, Phillip Sollmann (aka Efdemin) has finally stepped up to the plate with his debut platter. Sollmann has quietly made a name for his Efdemin alias with a glacial 12” per year pace since 2004. Kleine Wirrniss (2004) and Bruxelles (2005) were both built on the Dial archetype (moody, discordant synths ‘n’ strings mixed with deep house beats) and his contributions to split 12”s on liebe*detail and Curle (“Lohn und Brot” and “Acid Bells,” respectively) both appear here, suggesting that even when he’s not explicitly releasing stuff on Dial he’s not one to fuck with his take on the formula.
It’s a great formula, though, and god knows that when producers tend to step outside of themselves on their debut full-length (see: Superpitcher), it’s invariably a disastrous move. (Note: Sustained moods are not such a bad thing. Genre workouts are.) Sollmann, to his credit, mines the darkness for all its worth. Both the aforementioned “Lohn und Brot” and “Acid Bells” are highlights in this regard, with the former more than happy to revel in the tendrils of melody that it sets up for itself and the latter building steam by focusing on the titular bells throughout. “Back to School,” as well, should delight fans of Sollmann’s recent dalliances with merging the somewhat disparate spheres of Dial’s moody techno with classic Chicago jack.
There are missteps. The deep house cut “Le Ratafia” sounds a bit too much like Sten, which as other writers have noted, sounds a bit too much like Polygon Window. The same goes for “Salix Alba” for much of its length, until it begins to become far more interested in navel-gazing at its melody and somehow comes out all the better for it.
Sollmann’s work as Efdemin has slightly different elements to it than his labelmates. His love of house, of course, is well documented and is a far greater presence than on Pantha Du Prince’s This Bliss. At the same time, you’ll hear traces of Sollmann’s ambient/sound-design work under his own name on Dial—“Stately, Yes,” for instance, seems to utilize the same drones as melodic ingredients. But despite Sollmann’s minor differences, the end result is much the same as his labelmates: a supremely dislocating form of house music that beguiles as much as it charms.
Reviewed by: Nina Phillips
Reviewed on: 2007-07-20