Mano Le Tough: Stories EP
Buzzin' Fly

An Irishman currently based in Berlin, Mano Le Tough's built a reputation as a DJ as a result of a residency at Berlin's Kleine Reise club, so it seems only natural that he might have found himself contributing a guest mix to Buzzin' Fly's radio show. It also seems natural that, after having done so, he'd ship over a collection of demos for the label's consideration and that the powers-that-be would be so impressed they'd order up a debut EP featuring three originals. It's not, however, his first time on record, as previous Mano Le Tough material has appeared on Mirau, Dirt Crew, and Internasjonal, but it is the first time he's included his voice as one of the musical elements.

In its opening moments, “Stories” conjures a child's wonderland with a mix of brightly chattering synthetic sparkle and twinkling toy pianos before a syncopated beat pattern, pulsating bass line, and claps invest the track with a clubbier vibe. The complexion of the track changes again when a dramatic keyboard motif appears, paving the way for his smooth croon to enter (“I've got a story that I'm sticking to…”), and the richly detailed song continues to shift gears and explore unpredictable pathways, even when that Liberace-like figure remains firmly in place. “From the Start” actually proves to be the more immediately captivating of the EP's two vocal cuts on account of the track's deeply funky groove. Slightly acid-tinged, it's infectious in the extreme, and one visualizes a dance floor instantly filling the moment the song appears. When Le Tough's multi-tracked vocal surfaces, it does little to diminish the song's potency—if anything, the vocal hook makes the track all the more appealing, and a nice contrast develops between the vocal melody and the distorted electronic figure that contorts alongside it. The closing instrumental “Take It Back” weaves a multitude of percolating elements—vibes, handclaps, tinkles, synthesizers, and a thumping pulse among them—into a trance-styled house cut whose central synthesizer theme Booka Shade would be proud to call its own. The tune's gradual build and restrained euphoria are a tad reminiscent of Booka Shade, too—not that there's anything wrong with that.

With Le Tough paying as much attention to the three tracks' luscious high end as well as the lower, it's no wonder Buzzin' Fly was so taken by the material it immediately commissioned him to ready a full-length debut album for a projected early 2012 release.

October 2011