Tensnake - Glow
Three days ago, I was cleaning out my cupboards during the annual 'things are starting to grow, it's time to investigate' phase, and I discovered a pair of my mums old leg warmers. Disgusted, I threw them aside. Sure, my mum in her 20's was a very attractive woman, but the idea of her prancing about to Oliva Newton John filled me with dread. (Edit: My mum is still a very attractive woman).
I share this anecdote only to impress upon you the power that the new Tensnake album, Glow, can have over an individual. Not more than 3 songs in, I was digging back in that cupboard attempting to resurrect the fallen clothing item, in the knowledge that the only way I could do this record true justice was to throw them on and get a touch physical. Glow is a wonderful marriage of modern technique, 80s glam and 70s funk, provided ably by that hallowed guitar that Nile Rodgers pilots. That Marco Niemerski has the audience of the man at the forefront of earwiggery over the past 4 decades is a testament to the career he has carved out during the mid to late noughties. Existing during the EDM blossom yet keeping his hands relatively spot free in that regard is admirable, especially when you consider the ease that the Guetta's, Deadmouse's and Avicii's have found life within the ecstasy laced bubble. 2010's Coma Cat, his breakout single, won acclaim and the ears of fellow producers for its unique blend of focused bass and insistent cowbell keys, achieving that holy grail of house atmospheres so coveted by fans and championed by guys like Kavinsky and Digitalism.
Glow is an extension of that theme. You can't make an entire record out of one track, as we discoved with Kavinsky's OutRun last year. Tensnake has avoided this trap and sought out wider pastures, mining at least two decades worth of radio bait to create something that sounds wildly dated yet manages to play this off as a strength. Opener First Song, despite it's lacklustre title, is a reminder that, whilst there may be a plethora of hired help on Glow, Niemerski still cut his teeth in the competitive world of DJing, and this glitchy, downbeat number meshes late model Moby with bright rolling synths to give the song a real push and pull. There are more examples of this straight-laced approach littered throughout the record. No Colour uses an expanding thump of percussion to bleed in to an almost sultry soul sample, producing a focused and driven dance number. Holla is a nice deep house cut, probing through a hazy atmosphere with insistent drums and climbing synths. Last Song (I know, I know), is the perfect closer, another deep house movement forging a trained path through the club and straight to the VIP room, weed smoke and all.
In between these obligatory expressions is the true joy of Glow. Over the past 12 months, we've seen more than ever a harried embrace of all things analog. Daft Punk almost inexplicably cast off what could've been the dance record of the century to create what ended up becoming the dance record of the century, with Nile Rodgers and a bunch of outdated equipment in tow. Justin Timberlake took a very ill advised nosedive in to the 70s and Pharrell Williams, on G I R L, attempted to rekindle the publics love of a crooner. With the exception of Daft Punk, most attempts to resurrect those days have been gratuitous bloats that wasted both time and money. Glow is much less idyllic in nature, and significantly richer for that. Coma Cat introduced his cowbell synth, now Glow places it on a pedastool. On Good Enough To Keep, a retro funk beat orchestrated surely in part by Rodgers is wonderfully enhanced by surrounding touches that do more to place you back in time than wood panelling. On Feel Of Love, Stuart Price AKA Jacques Lu Cont lends his experience with 80s new wave credits such as New Order and Pet Shop Boys to combine with Jamie Lidell and Tensnake and craft an insistent hark that belies our pitiful modern technology.
That Tensnake has enlisted the help of Fiora, a Tasmanian songstress who deals in orchestral arrangements, is no linear note sundry. On lead single 58 BPM, the clearest message yet of the rejection of a steroid induced culture comes to fruition, with Fiora echoing sentiments singing "We'll be in a time warp stretchin' weightless over and over". She picks up no less than 6 credits, and her voice and influence is littered all over Glow. She acts as the allayer, grounding the tracks by giving them a focal point to bounce around. No Relief would be a bland canvas if not sustained by a steeped backing of holy synth, and her breathy vocals on Kill The Time add an indie pop element, "Keeping out of reach with a dangerous night / For every version of this commotion" is a far cry from "I was five and he was six / We rode on horses made of sticks".
Glow is a bloated 16 tracks, and whilst this isn't unheard of in House circles, it's not this crowd that he has chosen to run with here. Dismissing it as an inflated piece that is more a testament to an inability to utilise the cutting room floor rather than displaying a multi-facted approach is hasty. In a recent interview with LifeLounge Niemerski admitted to Glow being removed from club culture and a record that lends itself to a visual medium, which is certainly fitting of the dynamic he has fostered. His intention to shun the bright lights of Ibiza in pursuit of a more pop centric piece is abundantly clear, and the wonderful thing about Glow is that it's intention is always fun, enjoyable times. That it is 16 tracks is only proof of a creative blunderbuss. Fashion police be damned, crack out the leg warmers.