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Iron Curtis: Soft Wide Waist Band (Mirau Musik)

Tensnake's label releases a set of sublime deep-tech rhythms.

By Bruce Tantum
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The debut album from Iron Curtis follows a string of excellent releases—including last year’s beautiful Goma EP—that proved that the artist (otherwise known as Johannes Paluka) certainly knew his way around a Detroit-tinged tech-jazz tune. But Soft Wide Waist Band, released on Tensnake’s Mirau label, eclipses the promise of those singles by a wide margin. Working with the kind of melodic-techno/deep-electronic-house template originally forged by the likes of Larry Heard and Austin “Abacus” Bascom in the early ’90s, the LP is defined by gently meandering melodies, cottony sound design and the occasional soft-focus vocal, along with arrangements that bring together frothy, acidic bubbles, swirling keyboard lines and soothing layers of warm synthesizer washes. As with Heard and Bascom, along with modern acts ranging from the Field to M83, Paluka makes music that manages the neat trick of evoking feelings both grand and intimate. The tracks are individually gorgeous: “Just Body Left” features gliding synth tones draped over an atomizing drum-machine rhythm; the rat-a-tat snares on “Hurts” are softened by its serene melody; and the drive of “Inner Glow” flows from a brilliant ascending bassline and spare percussion. But this album isn’t really about individual tracks—it’s more concerned with a timeless elegance that’s just as rare in techno and house as it is anywhere else.

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