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Tensnake “Glow” – Album Review

Virgin (2014)

At the forefront of the nu-disco scene, German DJ/producer Marco Niemerski, aka Tensnake, produced one of this decade’s first undisputable modern dance classics with the 808 snares, glossy synths and soulful vocal samples of 2010’s “Coma Cat.” But forced to start from scratch following a hard drive crash which wiped out the entirety of his debut, we’ve had to wait nearly four years to find out whether he’s capable of sustaining such a high standard over the course of an entire record.

Unsurprisingly, Glow is steeped in the sounds of the era in which the 37-year-old grew up. One of seven tracks featuring the breathy ethereal tones of Tasmanian-born vocalist Fiora, “58 BPM” is a gorgeously languid end-of-the-disco slow-dance affair which recalls Phyllis Nelson’s sensual one-hit wonder, “Move Closer.” The feel-good vibes of “Selfish” could easily have been lifted from a 80s Rare Groove compilation. And Prince obsessive Jamie Lidell does his best impression of The Purple One on “Feel Of Love,” a wondrously funky affair worthy of gracing Sign O’ The Times.

But the old-school vibes don’t end there. Indeed, perhaps keen to show that his musical tastes extend far beyond the decade that taste forgot, Tensnake also transports listeners to the 70s by teaming up with Nile Rodgers for the timeless disco-funk of “Love Sublime.” The 90s are represented by the feel-good house of “Good Enough To Keep” and the lush sunset chill of “See Right Through,” Meanwhile, take away the kaleidoscopic synths, and “Listen Everybody” appears to be channelling the kind of Brazilian flavoured-pop Sergio Mendes pioneered in the 60s.

Tensnake even sends up the album’s retro tendencies on the self-deprecating “Ten Minutes” interlude, with the voice of a lone female clubber bemoaning the lack of dubstep. However, Glow does occasionally show signs that it was released in 2014. “Holla” might even keep the aforementioned lady in question happy, although it’s more at the brooding Burial end of the spectrum than the speaker-blasting Skrillex. Elsewhere, opener “First Song” neatly fits in with the current wave of glitch-pop with its disjointed beats, shimmering keys and ghostly vocals from rising star MNEK.

But Glow is undoubtedly at its best when it’s at its most nostalgic—a playful and versatile, if slightly overlong, affair. Tensnake should perhaps count his frustrating computer malfunction as a blessing in disguise.

4 / 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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