Germany is defined for some by its fine exports, with countless DJs and producers touring the globe representing this European techno and house mecca. Alex Niggemann is no exception, exploding onto the scene in 2008 with releases ‘Assign Me’, ‘Circles’ & ‘Everybodys Darling’ featuring his own techno productions as well as a number of remixes which cemented him firmly into a heap of DJs records bags and netting him in the top 10 of Resident Advisor’s charted DJs that year. There has definitely been a progression in Niggemann’s style of production, his early releases being primarily techno & tech house with minimal use of vocals, since then he has progressed into the deeper side of things, favouring druggy vocals (think Maceo Plex & Tale Of Us style hooks) with slower plodding bass lines that have steadily risen in popularity over the past year while still utilising the melodic elements of techno. ‘Paranoid Funk’ is Niggemann’s debut album being released on Poker Flat and aims to showcase the broad talent that this classically trained musician has to offer.
The album opens with the previously released (‘Don’t Wait’ EP – Poker Flat) ‘Don’t Wait’ featuring a very smooth, controlled bassline coupled with some extremely reverb heavy lyrics synonymous with the current deep house trend, it’s very sexy and I particularly like the sharp riffs when it drops back in after the second mix down which gives it a nice contrast to the mesmerising bassline. The following track ‘The Sweetest Thing’ with Daniel Solar shares much of the same characteristics as ‘Don’t Wait’ but doesn’t really grab my attention, the bass line is lacking depth and the hook is uninteresting although the breakdown is quite groovy but before long we’re back to the repetitive bass and hook.
Next up is ‘Curious’ which again doesn’t really set itself apart from the first two tracks, it opens with a bare kick and light percussion but slowly opens up to the same housey elements, although lacking the vocals. I really like the drums and percussion used in this track, even though they’re mostly subtle, they are well balanced and work together to compliment the other elements. On the whole we still haven’t been exposed to a great deal of diversity yet.
As if on queue, the following track ‘Easy Love’ with Florian Schirmacher appears with its darker bass, upbeat kick and exciting drop. This track ties in the good elements from the previous tunes and drives them to a dark and melodic place where they have a party and emerge as a succinct and tight mix. It seems like we’re on a roll here because the next tune ‘That is…!?’ is another lively blend of plodding bass, a catchy hook and well constructed drums.
Unfortunately the next three tracks ‘Come Into My World’, ‘Parentless Child’ and ‘I Don’t Care’ (Ride Mix) don’t really stand out again. ‘Street Therapy’ is quite an interesting and definitely the biggest contrast of this album. It goes for 9 and a half minutes and opens with a scene of people walking around, conversing and cars driving past which actually continues throughout the whole track, albeit subdued by the other elements. It has a very long build up which is highly satisfying. This is definitely my favourite track of the album with the more industrial elements of Niggemann’s background showing through.
This album has some great elements to it, but I thought it could have gone further in experimenting with different sounds. The ‘plodding’ bass felt somewhat overused by the end and seemed to drive most of the tracks with intermittent success. Some of these tracks will convert well on the dance floor and overall it provides for some easy listening at home. If you’re into the present house scene this album is worth a listen.
‘Paranoid Funk’ is due to be released on the 4th of June.