tephan Bodzin doesn’t want to talk about it. Which, you know, is kind of funny considering he made a living doing it during the ‘90s. You can’t really blame him, though. Even with the Get Physical and Border Community labels adding some legitimacy to the sound: everyone seems to be afraid of the T word. Yep, trance just ain’t that cool. And it probably never will be again. (Seriously, did we really listen to music made by this guy?)
Even so, it’s hard to talk about Bodzin’s productions (the ones that he’s finally confident to release under his own name) without invoking it. What other dance music genre is as defiantly melodic? What other genre unabashedly courts the hand-in-the-air climax? Bodzin’s neat trick on Liebe Ist… (his debut artist album) is to make peace with the former and to shun the latter. Like Border Community’s greatest hits, you get thrown to the edge of oblivion, but always gently and slowly pulled back. Depending on where you stand, it’s the most deliciously tense 77 minutes of dance music you’ll hear all year. Or the biggest cocktease of them all.
The formula (and there is very much a formula here) is invariably simple. Introduce beat, fade in melody, counter it, drop everything out, pull beat back in at exact same volume thereby negating aforementioned climax, add distortion around beat to fool listener into believing this isn’t trance at all, rinse, lather, repeat. It’s stupid and it totally works. The level to which it works is the ol’ indie-pop problem: how emotional can we get without going too far off the deep end? “Kerosene” rides the line perfectly and even gives a little bit of payoff when its bassline finally unfurls itself to its full length. “Leuchtkraft” simply comes off cold next to its confessional cousins.
Or does it? It’s honestly hard to tell because, in all seriousness, every track here draws from the same sounds, structure, and emotional well. Bodzin put out more than five solo 12”’s in 2006—and plenty more in collaboration—and one can only hope that he’s nearing the end of that particular batch of studio energy. (What once was novel is now very much rote.) Consistent to a fault, Liebe Ist… is that rare example of an electronic artist album which could actually benefit from some eclecticism. I mean, I hesitate to ask this, but whither Tiësto?
Reviewed by: Nina Phillips
Reviewed on: 2007-08-01