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nick höppner-work 2lp (ostgut ton)

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nick höppner: work

Nick Höppner connects the territories of house music with the ease of alt-pop on Work, his second solo album for Ostgut Ton. After leaving his full-time job as Ostgut Ton's label manager in 2012, Nick Höppner went fully freelance, focusing on his musically diverse, deep, and dynamic DJing in and outside Berghain's Panorama Bar, but more importantly spending more time in the studio. The result was his critically acclaimed debut album Folk, various 12" releases and remixes, and now his sophomore LP, Work, which, more than ever, lays out his refined production skills and his talent to work the machines until they reveal their inner ghosts: nine new songs that now dodge the dancefloor, then fully embrace it. On Work, Höppner shows his everlasting lust for musical detail, his increasing technical skills and compositional finesse. Work is a very personal, soulful, and deep record that breaks through the usual club/dancefloor narrative by documenting Nick's interest for hybrid sounds and combining elements from varying musical genres. Work's lead single "All By Themselves (My Belle)" is a very atmospheric, intimate, and steadily unfurling IDM piece with ethereal synth and vocal pads; it's contrasted by the personal "Clean Living" with Tram 78, a modern Höppner club classic: powerful, kick-heavy, muscular, cheerful, and uplifting. Connecting to this musical vibe, "In My Mind" follows with a slightly darker tone putting emphasis on bassline, percussion, and squeaky sound detailing. "Hole Head" pays tongue-in-cheek homage to Nick's love for UK club music, when a dashing melody of synths and vibraphone is matched with clattering breaks and syncopation. The dubby, mesmerizing "The Dark Segment" not only impresses with its hypnotic synth figurines, but also by morphing to a shuffling jazz rhythm towards it's middle part; "Forced Resonance" uses Oberheim synth brass stabs to dramatic effect; the percussion- and clap-laden "Fly Your Colours" comes with an irresistible piano melody atop an energetic kick; and finally the album-closing, shuffling but rhythmic, noisy yet bluesy, "Three Is A Charm", featuring the duo Randweg (Andreas Ernst and David Baurmann) on clarinet, cajón, and acoustic guitar, is a coherent departure heading towards indie pop territory. It sees Nick collaborating with acoustic instrumentalists for the first time in his ten-year-spanning Ostgut Ton release catalog. Art work by German collage artist Frank Bubenzer.

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