His first release since signing a major deal with Sony Records, German techno maestro Paul Kalkbrenner‘s album 7 raids the label’s vaults for a “life-embracing” affair, suggesting that elusive mainstream breakthrough in America may be just around the corner.
Indeed, with its sample of Luther Vandross’ 80s classic “A Thousand Kisses,” “A Million Days” could well follow in the chart-topping footsteps of Robin Schulz’s similar tropical house makeovers, while the disco beats, funky guitars and whistling hooks of “Cylence 412” may just be the most infectious track the 38-year-old has ever recorded.
Based on D-Train’s 1981 hit “You’re The One For Me,” the soulful melodies and beautifully melancholic coda of lead single “Cloud Rider” may also be the most stunning, perfectly setting the minimal yet magnetic tone for the rest of 7 ahead.
Paul Kalkbrenner’s decision to use vocals for the first time since 2008’s hit “Sky and Soul” doesn’t always pay off, with Grace Slick’s yelping tones on the Jefferson Airplane-sampling “Feed Your Head” proving to be a rather grating choice, especially considering the wealth of Sony material he had access to.
The piano-driven “Tone and Timber,” which veers towards the kind of easy-listening you’d expect to hear in a hotel lobby, is also a slight misstep, although the train-track rhythms of closer “Bright Roller” and brooding bleeps of “Shuffleface” soon prove that the Berliner’s hasn’t lost his knack for creating immersive instrumentals.
The video trilogy promoting the album, in which a foreign traveller attempts to share his enthusiasm for techno with an initially dismissive but eventually welcoming America, might not exactly be a subtle analogy—but it’s a potentially fitting. 7 could just be the Paul Kalkbrenner record that makes the other side of the Atlantic sit up and take notice.