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Isolee: Western Store

Isolee: Western Store

Release Date:2006

By Jess Harvell | Posted 3/8/2006

It took Germany’s Rajko Müller five years to release an album after 2000’s sublime Rest, a sour electronic-music confection with the tang of limoncello. And it was more than worth the wait; last year’s Wearemonster certainly sounded like it took several years of Zen concentration and a very tired clicking finger. Müller arranged his ticks and tocks like a Japanese rock garden—just so—and then threw in dozens of little hooks, mostly because he could. But if Wearemonster was just a lot of bleeps, no one would have cared except severe-looking young men in wire-frame eyewear. Müller expertly played with the beatmaker’s two secret weapons—space and contrast—making the dance floor sound as deep and wide as the ocean. Few “abstract” records so vigorously tugged at the heartstrings.

Müller wasn’t sitting on his hands for those five years, though; like most dance producers he was cranking out 12-inch vinyl singles that few people heard outside of a club. Western Store isn’t quite complete as a singles compilation, but it’s the best one out there for the merely curious or the turntable-less. It is an itchy, scratchy, restless record. Nothing in Müller’s music is allowed to settle. The beat on “Initiate II” twitches uncomfortably, high-hats rubbing the skin like it was crawling with crank bugs. But, ever the prankster, Müller pitches a creamy male vocal and flickers of warm Fender Rhodes organ under this rustle. Like a time capsule of the last decade of left-field dance music, Western Store bristles with ideas: watery jazz chords, prog-rock melodies, subliminal reggae skank, aluminum drums, and plenty of negative space. It climaxes with Freeform Five’s Latin-jazz remix of the classic “Beau Mot Plague,” where we wash ashore on a beach in Ibiza, eyes squinting in the sun, wondering where all the gremlins went and why everyone is so damn tan.

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