Christopher Rau Christopher RauAsper Clouds
The Hamburg label Smallville—as far as I know, nothing to do with Kal-El—wants to leave its mark on sentimental house, and has entrusted one of their own with polishing the display cases in their trophy room. Christopher Rau has come up as a DJ on the Hamburg scene–as far as I know, nothing to do with Burger King– and he has left traces of his talent on various 12” albums. Here he has executed a baptism by fire, or shall we say, by ice, thanks to a patrician album—as far as I know, nothing to do with Sponge-Bob’s Patrick. Two words: deep house. One feeling: nostalgia. You must listen to “Asper Clouds” with headphones, the production is full of echoes, deep basses, and watery beats that bounce in the foam of the headphones and devour your eardrum like ants on a dead lobster. “Asper Clouds” is a dive without an oxygen tank to the oceanic depths of the most groovy, spiritual house. The low notes in “A Line” should remove any doubt that the most fearful listener might have: you can tell that Rau has mastered ambiance , he knows how to create moods, he handles the essentials of the deepest depths of the deep like nobody else—he is a master of playing with low frequencies and beats with soul.
Soul is precisely what “Always the Same” has, a lesson in highly refined plastic surgery on the worn face of Chicago house: Rau applies little insertions of minimal, shaping the angles until they are perfectly curved lines, increasing the volume of the lips until they have a sensuous shape, using muffled claps, cavernous drums, and a wall of sound of crepuscular synthesisers that will stand your hair completely on end. He doesn’t hide the evident influence of the Detroit factory, either. If there is one thing that the German seeks in his teary house, it is to strike a chord and build a Frankenstein with soul and spirit out of technological coldness. And he manages to do it. “Asper Clouds” has a pulse, it’s alive, it feels and cries—it is the maximum expression of emotional electronic music for the dance floor. The bpm’s point to the dance floor and, combined with nostalgia and goose pimples, they offer listeners a hypnotic experience somewhere between dynamic and indolent. One example is “Capri”: it smells of Detroit from beginning to end, honouring the Bible of Chicago; it tastes of minimised techno, hits you in the sternum, and then gets your feet tapping. Another example is “Do Little”: pure danceable introspection bordering on ambiental pop; it is a foggy symphony of wintry synthesisers and sepia-tinted sounds. Electronic craftsmanship for the heart of the clubber.
There are no false variations or eclecticisms, “Asper Clouds” follows a very straight line of house sweetness and melancholy, and it does well not to leave this road towards solitude. It doesn’t have to prove anything outside of those limits. The guitar loop in “Ne Travaillez Jamais” –the hit that introduced him to us a year ago– is overwhelming (don’t miss the extraterrestrial piano scale either), and it makes the drum and cymbal move like a eucalyptus steam bath in the nose of somebody with a cold. There is also mystery, there are passages marked by uncertainty and Martian law, like the detective jazz-house of “The Cool World” or the 90’s air Detroit mayhem of “Ping to You”, possibly one of the album’s best cuts. “Asper Clouds” is definitely autumn captured in the form of a chip, the night sky about to collapse onto the down comforter on your bed. Cover up and don’t turn out the light.
Christopher Rau - The Cool World