Frank Martiniq
Little Fluffy Crowds


or an artist so assiduously against the idea of having vocals in his music, Frank Martiniq sure seems to luxuriate in the realm of word games. The title of his latest album, of course, is a nod to the Orb’s classic single, while the opening salvo from the album is titled what has become to be known as the most beautiful phrase in the English language (“cellar door”). The song with which it's associated isn’t the most beautiful song produced this year, but on many occasions throughout Little Fluffy Crowds, Martiniq comes close.

It’s follow-up, “Foreign Sunset,” is one of those examples—mixing deep synth pads with a chugging bass and a several melodic elements that add color to the surroundings. It’s one of the easier rides you’ll find in the world of tech-house this year, but one definitely worth taking. So is “Use Fuse,” which ups the ante of “Foreign Sunset” by subtly increasing the tempo and adding miniscule amounts of disembodied voices to the mix. Once again, though, it’s the synth pads and the pointillist harmonic counterpoint that save the day.

“Schmuren & Uck” mines the same anchoring synth sound for its more full-bodied grinding workout, but is offset by the low-key “35th Invest Inc.,” which is the sort of wispy IDM-house that you might find on a Robag album. Of course “Daddy-Longlegs” is its flipside, a hard-edged fart-bass-electro track that revels in its cavernous production, but it’s nothing compared to the more fully realized version of itself, “Walking Bass (Little Fluffy Kraut Mix).”

Little Fluffy Crowds wouldn’t be able to hold its up head and be distributed by Kompakt if it didn’t have a schaffel track and “Cuesta Verde” fills that niche ably, coming down on the side of T. Raumschmiere’s more banging compositions, rather than the rolling beauty of artists such as Undo and Vicknoise. The original version of “Walking Bass” comes next, itself being a bit more idiosyncratic, but unfortunately less effective than its counterpart due to its slowing down and dumbing down.

But Martiniq finishes strongly with the one-two punch of “My Bloody Clementine” and “Can’t Kill The Boogymen,” the former being a lightly composed melody paired with a pounding beat, and the latter being the album’s first and only nod to genres outside of house. What that genre is, though, is nearly impossible to say: IDW (intelligent dance waltz)?

In the world of faceless and incredibly talented producers, it’s incredibly hard to discern one from the other at times. Frank Martiniq hardly has an identifiable “sound,” as you can tell from the above descriptions, but his compositions are united by one thing: a consistent quality, no matter the spin that Martiniq is putting on it. While you’ll probably never actively go out and seek Little Fluffy Crowds, if it somehow ends up finding you, you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2005-04-28
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