Despite being born out of Hamburg, you could be forgiven for thinking this German duo would reside in Berlin. With their eclectic mix of dark techno infused beats, paired with uplifting electro house, they are a bit like salted caramel – a strong flavour up front, but with a sweet after taste. Jens “Jence” Moelle and İsmail “Isi” Tüfekçi are a dance music power couple; Belgium has 2manydjs/Soulwax, France has Daft Punk and Germany has Digitalism. They rode the bloghaus wave in the mid-to-late naughties with their debut album, “Idealism”, shooting them onto the scene to forge the now matured electro house genre. 10 years on however, and their sound has followed an ideal arc. “5KY11GHT” is a natural progression, staying true to what made Digitalism great, while developing its own unique sound. The five (4 without the radio edit) track EP, their first major release since 2016’s “Mirage”, is an homage to a blend of modern sounds, and showcases their production skills to a tee.
‘Spektrum’ teases with intro of stabbing synths which, boiled down to its individual elements, could get old, but Digitalism are masters of layering and subtle effects. The way they put them together and the overall flow of the song surprises at each turn. Midway through it swells to a climactic peak, which brings the track home, and it would be every bit as appropriate at home as it would be at a basement gig.
If after hours is more your jam, the deep, almost horn sounding keys of ‘Jet’, which are contrasted with dreamy synth chords and tight percussion work, are sure to get you in the mood. Digitalism have always toed the line between a production/DJ duo and a electro “band”, which is why their releases lend themselves so well to a live performance. The extended breakdown is a recurring feature present on these first two tracks. It has a curious effect of dissipating any previous momentum, whilst at the same time allowing them to build the listener up in a completely different way. In ‘Jet’ this presents itself through the mariachi-esque, which then seamlessly make way for the bass and synth to take over for a powerful finish.
There’s a sense of continuity when ‘Highspeed Sunrise’ starts. The same haunting mariachi style trumpets cut through the background, while Digitalism’s proclivity for both electronic and abstract sounds set the scene for a track that would not sound out of place on the “Blade Runner” soundtrack. The shortest track on the album, it shows the range of the German duo, with a surreal blend of eclectic sounds and rolling synth work with a gentle melody. ‘Spektrum2000’ aside, it’s the perfect ending to a well planned collection. Having said that, the last original track makes a strong statement. ‘Spektrum2000’ feels like an ode to the early 2000 remix culture that a lot of us grew up with. Chopping and changing the base components, it successfully enhances the original without ruining it, making it a solid standalone track. Artists remixing their own work can be very hit or miss, but in this instance they knock it out of the park.
The duo haven’t been on our shores since 2016, but with a touring schedule that pushes into 2018, hopefully it won’t be too long before they bring their new arsenal back down under.
Get it now via Magnetism.
author: Nat Taylor