Pig & Dan
fter two singles on Sven Väth’s Cocoon label last year—the luminous tech of “After Ibiza” and the slightly more progressive “Onto the Beat”—Igor Tchkotoua and Dan Duncan, Pig & Dan, are back with their debut full-length for the label, Imagine. It’s Cocoon’s second full-length of the year following the ether-shifting deep house of Guy Gerber’s Late Bloomers. And though the two albums don’t bear much direct comparison—Gerber was clearly in a patient, swooning mood and at his ease with the record’s long-form sense of motion, one perhaps best played seaside, alone and with horizons at eye, with a book not so good you can’t put it down and dance in your head a while, while Pig & Dan are faster to the punch with their heady bombast, working more within the confines of techno and tech house proper—the label is clearly learning to master the ‘notoriously difficult’ full-length in 2007.
Opening with the twirling patterns and daybed motifs of “Sweet September,” the duo bring the album up to speed in a hurry with the ascendant synth-beds of “Sly Detector”—like a Border Community cut if everything weren’t quite so, you know, harsh—and the title cut’s dense layering of acidic FX and trapped, pinging sounds. “Globetrotter,” meanwhile, is positively suffocating techno, pressing in close with a rigid bassline that recalls “48 Hour Crack in Your Bass.” “Sympathy for the Devil,” originally a b-side to 2005’s “Retox” single, serves as the album’s centerpiece and most immediately floor-worthy piece, shuffling through warbling tonal patterns into a heady oil-of-night fantasy. It’s the kind of dense hypnotism those of us holding our breath on that label-less Minilogue album are hoping to hear, if maybe three minutes shorter.
After the peak-fitting of “Sympathy” though, Imagine turns contemplative for a while, from the lulling, almost minimal (by Imagine’s standards at least) itching FX of “K-Os” through the shapeless bursts and jungled moans of “Saturday Morning.” Closer “Futile,” however, flirts with the epic adultery of progressive house, contenting itself in twinkles and street lights until it can turn itself off completely to grunt and play foul. At the 4:30 mark, soulful vocal samples stutter into the mix and push the tribalism off, briefly reshaping the track into this glorious house party moment before that voice dims and this sleek, minimal beast skates off again.
In fact, as Imagine finally gives out to a daze on the hidden track “Numbing Your Emotions”—so goose-skin chillout it doesn’t deserve the limitations of the tag—it seems hard to pin down just where you were supposed to rise and where you had to sit back down ‘cause that rise bore a spin. First and foremost, after all, Imagine is a dance-floor record, but there’s a strong emotional pull to its most articulate passages, and a brimming, melodic sense to everything they do here—something setting apart labels like Traum, Border Community, Cocoon, and to a degree Connaisseur, as the minimal backlash (yawn) knuckles up. But it is something worth noting, and perhaps a quality that’ll bring those to this record that wouldn’t normally give any time to techno. Either way, Imagine is one of 2007’s better full-lengths, and another reason why Cocoon may be one of those labels capable of reaching out to more than just the die-hards.