Tiefschwarz Chocolate Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

The brothers’ remix work remains the real Tiefschwarz legacy.

Chris Power 2010

Having already made a certain impression as deep house producers at the turn of the millennium, Tiefschwarz reinvented themselves as leading lights of the electro-house scene that peaked around 2004. It was a canny move by the brothers from Stuttgart, but since releasing their Eat Books album in 2005 and a well-received mix for Fabric the following year, their formerly relentless remixing and release schedule began to tail off. Between then and now they have become, to many, a name from dance music’s past.

All of which makes Chocolate something of a comeback album, but if Tiefschwarz are feeling nervous they’re doing a good job of disguising it: by no means a classic, this album represents a slickly produced and enjoyable enough repositioning of their sound, which now lies mostly between minimal and deep house. Cynics may note the bet-hedging deliberateness of those choices, but it should be remembered that Tiefschwarz began as deep house producers.

Mostly applying their expertise to existing forms as opposed to innovating and creating new ones of their own, Chocolate sees Tiefschwarz moving through the 2010 strain of deep-house (Home), hypnotic techno (Kraft, the mesmerism of which is let down by a pedestrian drum pattern), and, with the stately melodic shimmer of What You Want, something like early-90s ambient house played at plus eight.

Few though they are, it's those instances when Tiefschwarz deliver the unexpected that bring Chocolate to life. Bon Voyage represents an unexpected diversion into the sort of melodic techno associated with James Holden’s Border Community label, while the album version of Trust, a single from last summer featuring Detroit DJ and producer Seth Troxler, appears in a crazed freeform version that sounds like a Weimar Germany jazz band indulging in a bit of absinthe-fuelled improvisation.

The quality falls away rapidly towards the album’s end. The Whistler jostles The Grid’s Swamp Thing as it enters the dread territory of the novelty techno track, while Stones and closing track 12am are forgettable minimal house doodles. Given Chocolate’s generous 70-plus-minute length, it’s hard to deny that the album would have benefitted from simply having its final quarter lopped off, ending instead with the slightly psychotic sultriness of Panorama Bar resident Cassy’s vocal on recent single Find Me. Instead Chocolate ends anticlimactically, and doesn’t do much to challenge the position that it’s the Schwarz brothers’ remix work that remains the real Tiefschwarz legacy.

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