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ATB “Contact” – Album Review

Kontor Records (2013)

Still best-known for “9PM (Till I Come),” the pitch-bending Ibiza anthem which conquered the globe at the turn of the century, German DJ/producer Andre Tanneberger, aka ATB, has certainly tried his hardest to release that particular albatross from around his neck. Indeed, like the majority of his eight previous studio efforts, Contact is a double-disc affair which offers both the lush melodic trance for which he is known and a series of ambient instrumentals designed to soundtrack the morning after.

Unsurprisingly, there’s little on the follow-up to 2011’s Distant Earth likely to usurp the 1999 number one as his signature hit. However, there’s still plenty here to explain why the 40-year-old remains a key draw on the club scene fifteen years on.

“Beam Me Up” is a gorgeous blend of distant synth drones, slow-dance beats and ethereal melodies which proves ATB can venture into chillout territory without descending into lift music. “Raging Bull” is the kind of swirling EDM-infused pop which would no doubt be topping the charts worldwide had it been recorded by one of the new breed of superstar DJs. Elsewhere, “Everything Is Beautiful” begins as a cinematic slice of dubstep before gradually building into a typically anthemic hands-in-the-air trance epic.

But while the female guests’ emotive tones provide a welcome relief from the anonymous AutoTuned warblings favoured by ATB’s peers, the male vocal contributions are less appealing. The fist-clenching dramatics of opener “When It Ends It Starts Again” and “What Are You Waiting For” almost drown in their over-earnestness, while “Now Or Never” could easily be mistaken for the teenybopper dance-pop of now-defunct The Wanted.

And although the second chillout-oriented disc of Contact no doubt sounds perfect when overlooking a Balearic sunrise, its array of aimless neo-classical and New Age productions leave little lasting impression, save for the DJ Shadow-esque breakbeat of “Red Sun” and the indie-rock-tinged “Pacific Avenue.”

With 26 tracks and a running time which clocks in past the two-hour mark, few could argue that Contact isn’t value for the money. But as inconsistent as it is over-generous, just as few are likely to leave the skip button alone.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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