Tour de Traum
or those following the Germanic house scene with any sort of regularity, the name Thomas Brinkmann should be old hat. Brinkmann burst onto the scene with an innovation: the two tone-armed turntable (one arm for each stereo channel). His artistic approach to production garnered worldwide attention and led to the release of records on labels run by Mike Ink and Richie Hawtin. Brinkmann soon broke away, however, and formed his own label, Max Ernst, which has been his most frequented home since.
On Tour de Traum, Brinkmann steps out, creating a mix that only contains elements from the Cologne-based Traum imprint. Brinkmann chose wisely. The label has offered some of the most consistent and invigorating dub oriented house since 1999 highlighting the talents of microhouse luminaries like Oliver Hacke, Philippe Cam, M.I.A. and Oxtongue. Similar to the recent Bis Neunzehn compilation featuring the Areal label, Brinkmann nominally faced an easier task, having more than 40 releases at his disposal rather than ten. Consequently, it could have been quite easy for Brinkmann to be lazy, merely mixing from track to track and collecting a paycheck.
It’s apparent, from the beginning, that this was not the case. On the opening track, Brinkmann makes subtle reference to Hawtin’s mix experiment DE9: Closer to the Edit and the mash-up genre by weaving three different tracks into one another to create an entirely new entity. Bassline, melodic fragment and vocal all coalesce into a strange and affecting new composition that Brinkmann guides gently to fruition. From these avant-garde beginnings, however, Brinkmann soon steps into full DJ guise, letting Salz’s remix of Philippe Cam’s “Western” lead the way into the meat of the set. Its dub inflected bassline is the constant for much of the rest of the set, employing a thick lustrous undercurrent to whatever melodies, clicks and fuzz make its way around and within it.
The mix can be roughly divided into four parts: the introduction, the dub-house portion, the harder edged tech-house portion and the conclusion (featuring what could be only described as the only oompah-laden finale in recent memory). Brinkmann’s obvious expertise on the decks makes for a smooth ride throughout, rarely complicating or slipping up. Particular tracks of note: the melodically rich Off Pop’s “Today” and the busy backdrop for Joachim Speith’s “Bye-Bye Gordian Knot”.
For those already ensconced deeply into the Traum catalogue, it might be hard to recommend this release. Brinkmann rarely does anything shockingly different to the songs after the aforementioned first cache. If, however, you don’t have access to a turntable or DJ on a regular basis, it’s as important as a Total release is to the Kompakt catalogue in explaining what purpose and relevance that this music has in both the Cologne scene and worldwide.