Till von Sein: #LTD

By merging clubby, bass-thumping grooves and samples of varying vocal and instrumental character, DJ-producer Till von Sein builds #LTD into a sleek and soulful hour-long set that acknowledges classic Chicago house and Detroit techno roots without being straitjacketed by them. That there's an undeniable good-time party vibe to the album shouldn't be taken to mean that von Sein, who's been issuing twelve-inch singles and remixes since 2006, doesn't apply himself seriously to his craft. Even a single listen to the album makes clear that it's no slapdash affair but a methodically assembled collection that draws upon a wide range of influences and eclectic sound sources (is that, for example, Ving Rhames's cryptic drawl showing up in the slow-burning “Neptune”?)

The shimmering electric piano and percussive flourishes give the opener “Tilly's 61 Rhodes Jam” the feel of an early Weather Report improv, the focus clearly on Josef Zawinul and less on the missing-in-action Wayne Shorter. Such jazz-fusion leanings are left behind in the subsequent tracks, however, as von Sein moves the album thenceforth into a sample-heavy soul-house zone. Though it's the luscious flow of the title track that initiates that transition with a relaxed, horn-prodded groove, it's the following track, “Sumthin Good,” that makes the transition complete. A soulful voice threads itself into a bass-thudding house groove whose allure is further deepened by the addition of acoustic piano and supple percussive detail—something good, indeed. The bass pulse is, if anything, even more potent in “Out of Love,” though one's attention might understandably be pulled away from the tune's funk by the fiery tenor sax turn Jon Hester adds to the track. With its slamming, hi-hit-driven pulse, “Monday” hits just as hard, while the jubilant “Biloxi Jam” lodges itself in one's memory courtesy of the wailing mouth harp hook. Von Sein gets a helping (vocal) hand from Tigerskin, Lazarus, and Meggy during the acidy soul-house of “Non Existent Love,” and then later from Fritz Kalkbrenner on the melodic floor-filler “Blueprint.” The eleven cuts on this more-than-satisfying debut collection are a varied and polished bunch, and one comes away from the album impressed by the finesse of von Sein's songwriting and production skills.

December 2011