German producers Frank Wiedemann and Kristian Beyer fuse Detroit techno, deep house...
Andrew McGregor 2004
Meet Frank Wiedemann and Kristian Beyer, two amiable switch-doctors from a tiny West German town who, they say, modestly join the dots between Detroit techno, Parisian/NYC deep house and London broken beat.
It doesn't take a Mensa graduate to work out that, having worked with the likes of Dixon, Trüby Trio and Jazzanova, and having appropriated the French word for 'soul' as a production moniker, Ame's sound is a fathoms-deep affair.
The chunky proto-chugs and cascading phuturistic synths that introduce the album'sopening track "Sun Sugar" are inspired first and foremost by Detroit's rich technocracy (old and new), but also by NYC/Chicago-style spoken word samples - simple yet irresistible dancefloor techniques.
The track gives the impression that our two deepsters are keen to keep the tempo slow and sensual - a feeling confirmed on the even more languorous "Tonite"; a disco-dub nugget resplendent with crunchy drums, funky hand-claps and the bassline equivalent of lounging in a hammock with a cocktail in hand.
Before we can get too comfortable, the LP moves a step closer to more traditional Detroit intensity with "Nia", a slowly building, techno-gilded groover that retains a dramatic vibe with choppy melodies, sinewy percussion and rugged, almost cinematic lo-end.
For "Ojomo", Ame shuffle together their Moodyman and Fela Kuti influences to create an astute blend of dragging Tony Allen style drums, wood-clinks, chocolate-hued bass and haunting, hymn-like chants that posit an emotive (and rarely heard) Afro-tech sound.
So far, so excellent. The buoyant yet introspective "Mifune" steps up the pace again half way through the album, making way for the superior "Hydrolic Dog", which sets percussive rustlings and hypnotic staccato strings atop an electro-house thumper.
By this stage Frank and Kristian have successfully proved themselves as purveyors of seductive sounds and maestros of beat-structure. But instrumental dance music has limited appeal outside the clubs as we all know, and it's unfortunate that, good as the last few songs are, (especially the tribal "Shiro"), there's nothing outstanding enough to keep our ears firmly glued to the speakers.
In the headphones and in the club, each track is a delightfully deep and sonorous achievement. On the stereo, as a ten-track artistic statement, it begins to sound safe and even perfunctory in places. The truth, perhaps, lies somewhere in between.