f Immer was microhouse dressed up in winter clothing and the first Speicher mix was the same, but wearing little clothing at all, then The Meaning must be the skeleton.
Thomas Melchior, the man behind the album, has stripped down the sound to its constituent parts, taking full-fledged melodies and beats and cleaving them until only remnants are left. It’s only then that he begins to compose the ultra-minimal tech-house that defines The Meaning, leaving the soft romanticism and muscular strength of similar minded releases to others.
Nonetheless, it’s a minimalism that works. Melchior is a gifted producer and has had plenty of practice in knowing exactly what to leave in that will keep the listener engaged and mentally completing the music that is missing. Lithe squiggles are sometimes all that remain of entire synth melodies, while drum beats are reduced to short hits and clicks.
So what holds everything together? It’s the sheer number of things going on, for one. Melchior liberally infuses his tracks with a variety of miniature sounds and ideas, while never losing sight of the all-important groove. On “Got Me”, for instance, the track is held together by a short piano melody, a vocal sample that barely allows enough out to denote the fact that it, at one time, said “Got Me” and what sounds like a synthesized flute. In addition, Melchior peppers the track with a number of drum sounds and short melodic fragments to keep things fresh.
If all of this sounds a lot like Akufen, it’s because the music does. “Over the Rise” could easily have been an outtake from My Way, what with its synth washes and cut-up vocals. But Melchior isn’t quite as choppy as the micro-sampling microhouse pioneer. In fact, at times, he’s quite a bit funkier, never falling into the trap of process over product. And, to be honest, LeClair probably owes something to Melchior if anything.
To put as much thought into what isn’t there is an interesting premise and one that Melchior has cultivated for a number of years now, but it isn’t one without pitfalls. The album suffers from an overall sameness that can be a debilitating proposition for listeners already predisposed to write off dance music for that reason. But for fans of the genre, this new album is a revelation of a proper debut for this legendary producer who rightfully stands with Ricardo Villalobos and Baby Ford as a giant of minimal techno.