VA: Bis Neunzehn

Established in 2000, the German label Areal has released numerous 12” discs by its founders Konfekt, Basteroid, and Metope, as well as Remute, Ada, and Undo/Redo (aka Metope and Konfekt) and now features all of them on this seventy-minute mix by Jan-Eric Kaiser. As might be expected, it starts calmly, in this case with the soft synth glimmers of Konfekt's “Mentt(ambis),” and gradually moves from a slow broil to propulsive techno with Kaiser effecting smooth segues throughout. Only with the second track do the signature qualities of the Areal style begin to declare themselves. Remute's “Expired” is delectable old-school techno with a house-inflected skipping beat, suggesting that Areal's tech-house isn't entirely dissimilar from Kompakt's but exudes a slightly retro feel in its heavier emphasis upon synthesizers; with Undo/Redo's “Gleitzeit,” Areal even gives Kompakt a run for its Schaffelfieber money. Bis Neunzehn is predominantly instrumental, with vocals only appearing here and there as accents or interjections. While it's all good, Basteroid's infectious “Against Luftwiderstand” stands out for its grinding bass lines, staccato treble clusters, and warped synth lines. Ada provides three of the best tracks, including the earliest and the latest. Released in October 2002, “Blindhouse” features a skipping beat with a burbling disco bass and harpsichord accents while “Believer” adopts a sparser arrangement of insistent beats, labyrinthine organ lines, and glimmering electric pianos. The most recent track, 2004's “…And More,” points the way forward with electronic techno-funk peppered by sensual vocal hooks. While Bis Neunzehn offers satisfying evidence of the label's past and present, let's hope Ada's irresistible “…And More” signifies an even better future.

April 2004