One of the greatest compliments an artist can be attributed to is that of an unmistakably distinct signature style. A style so often instigating a Shazam or Spotify search only to be quickly followed by the vocal affirmation that it is in fact exactly who you had in mind. For the man behind the magenta machine Tino Piontek, such is reality, and with Exotica seems primed to launch such occurrences to near stratospheric proportions.
And fittingly so. Not entirely dissimilar to a day out with Purple Disco Machine himself, we are initially introduced to the sophomore LP with the foot-tapping, bubblegum pop shaker ‘Can’t Get Enough’, featuring the anthemic vocals of Australian-grown songstress Sahara Beck. The status quo is maintained by even more radio-ready hits like the french-house inspired ‘At The Disko’, promiscuously post-funk ‘Hands to the Sky’ and even the Prince-evocative ‘Money Money’. Establishing a trend impressively continued three-quarters through, ‘Exotica’ is an excellent showcase of pairings between vocalists and the tracks they so effortlessly accompany as proven by the likes of electronic mainstays Elderbrook, The Knocks and so much more. It’s not long though before the metaphorical sun sets and ‘Exotica’ matures into a bonafide, beautifully mature dance floor destroyer with progressive heaters the likes of the crooning ‘Loneliness’, energizing ‘Playbox’ and personal favourite and most fittingly, the titular ‘Exotica’ itself.
All of this culminates in perhaps the strongest suit of ‘Exotica’ by far – it’s incredibly generous and genre-expansive 14 tracks. A welcome upgrade to the run-of-the-mill run time of most LP’s on offer, what results is an experience much greater than the sum of its parts. Accomplished all by a dance album no less, it’s a genre too often relegated to the confines of single releases and at most slapped together in the short form of an EP all too fleeting to truly encapsulate a narrative like the one portrayed here. Its’ a problem not shared by ‘Exotica’, boasting over an hour of material not a second too long in the tooth that exemplifies just how far Piontek has travelled since his debut ‘Soulmatic’ LP nearly a half-decade prior and easily sporting enough material to fill dance floors for another half-decade more.
Excellent implementation of traditional instrumentation lends an organic timbre yet in-the-pocket rhythm to all tracks backed by impeccable production and a crystal-clear engineering sheen throughout. Here, Piontek leverages a less is more approach, allowing the characteristics of each element a distinct boldness. What results is a tangible sense of confidence and self-identity in stark contrast to the trendy but often gimmicky dark obfuscation of the other garish, techno-centric side of the festival coin. So seldom is a dance release so abstinent of brooding melancholy, so unafraid of the major key, so unabashedly joyous and triumphant that it voraciously bears mention. So rarely does a future classic come along the likes of ‘Exotica’, standing tall as a familiarly all-encompassing exhibition into just how effectively this hero for hire’s classicly-inspired penchant for disco with a soul has penetrated everywhere we hear uplifting electronica from the club to the radio today.