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Axel Bartsch Kiss

Despite a career that stretches back to the ’80s, this is the first solo album from Axel Bartsch, who has DJed, promoted, and produced everything from hip-hop to techno. Here he’s narrowed his focus to tech-house and minimal, slowing building each track from stripped-back starts to peaks clearly paced for the dancefloor, but with varied results. “Mystique,” with its hints of dub, is a spacey success, but “Am Mauerpark” feels awkward and self-conscious, like a techno-by-numbers track. The sweep of “Pannebar,” inspired by Berlin’s Panoramabar, shows Bartsch’s pacing at its smartest, but the album’s intro recalls nothing so much as “Flashdance” (seriously). There’s much that’s good here, but there’s much frustrating as well, constantly on the verge of reaching higher without quite getting there.

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