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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/14/2013

Siriusmo Enthusiast

When the news of Enthusiast, Siriusmo's first full-length release since 2011, arrived, so did the possibility that the record could also be his last. If Monkeytown's cryptic and convoluted press release for the album is to be believed, the Berlin-based producer has decided to end his 18-year career by retiring "with enthusiasm." But whether or not Enthusiast is indeed Siriusmo's swan song, it's nevertheless a solid offering from the Monkeytown mainstay, who manages to pack a multitude of influences and genres—including disco house, jazz, and space-age hip-hop, to name a few—into its 13 tracks.

Just last year, Siriusmo whetted fans' appetites by releasing the Dr. Beak's Rantanplant EP, whose three tracks, "Doctor Beak," "Rantanplant," and "Plastic Hips," reappear on Enthusiast. That first song actually opens the new album on a high note, utilizing punchy house rhythms and an infectious trickling lead. Much of Enthusiast—with some exceptions—follows a similar line of inspiration, as most tracks sound like they've been influenced by the club but don't go out of their way to be dancefloor-friendly. This is not a bad thing, as the lack of constraints allows Siriusmo to balance accessibility with experimentality. "Cornerboy" and "Plastic Hips," for example, traipse the weirder fringes of the dancefloor, the former adding MC Ramon's nasal-toned braggadocio to a futuristic hip-hop-meets-dubstep instrumental, while the latter employs a bass-soaked stomp. "Cornerboy" is especially interesting, as it features a bombastic horn section and a bevy of cascading arpeggios and whining synths. "Plastic Hips" tries to capitalize on that chemistry, and although it's catchy, the song lacks the same potency; the heavy, squelching bass—reminiscent of early Lazer Sword—sounds a bit overdone and unimaginative, especially coming from Siriusmo. In contrast, a track like the disco-house-indebted and extremely hooky "Congratulator," with its funky bassline and sunny guitar riffs, falls squarely in the accessibility segment of the axis. There's also "Tranen aus Bier," a hard-hitting nod to the beat scene that juxtaposes slamming drums, skittery Southern-rap rhythms, and assorted pops with a melody that sounds ripped straight from an NES game.

Flipping back to the other end of the spectrum, Enthusiast isn't afraid to tread less accessible waters. On "Wattnlosmitmir," Siriusmo flirts with more beat-scene and glitch-hop tropes, shrewdly layering German rhymes—an MC mutters, among other things, the refrain "Was ist los mit mir? (What is wrong with me?)"—over the instrumental. But for all it does right, Enthusiast isn't perfect. It does falter at some points, particularly in its midsection, where Siriusmo's nonconformity does him a bit more harm than good. By dipping into such a wide array of genres and sounds, he manages to produce good results, but can sometimes seem like a jack-of-all-trades while being a master of none. Take "Rantanplant," for example, which couples a vaguely garage-sounding house beat with low-end synth noodling—it's competently done, but fails to leave a lasting impression. "Stinky Wig" centers itself around piano and synth arpeggio runs, but doesn't really jibe with the two tracks it's placed between, the wonky, techno-tinged "Itchy" and the bright, jazz-influenced "Liu." "Petit Cochon," while good instrumentally, rides its sultry French female vocal a bit hard, and seems a bit campy as a result. Taken as a whole, however, Enthusiast is a solid, eclectic offering, and, if it truly is Siriusmo's last, it's not a bad way to end a long career.

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