Loco Dice: The Anti-Minimalist

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“I didn’t put any stickers or graffiti on the door,” says Düsseldorf’s Loco Dice, discussing the tagged turquoise portal gracing the cover of 7 Dunham Place, his debut LP named after the Brooklyn address where it was recorded. “That door lived on its own, and entering that door changed my life… So I had to record the door as it happened.”

Truth be told, Dice is not much one for applying tags of any sort. “Minimal” is a word often applied to Loco Dice records, but Dice claims that unless you’re Richie Hawtin or Robert Hood, the term is likely being misused. Certainly, one single on Minus (2006’s class “Seeing Through Shadows”) shouldn’t mark you a minimalist. A more appropriate designator–if anything is to be taken from Loco Dice releases on Cadenza, Cocoon, and Ovum–is contemporary deep house, with integrants condensed from Chicago’s jackin’, Detroit’s friction, Ibiza’s tribalism, and G-funk’s lean.

Loco Dice (or just Dice, his real first name) came up in the late ’90s as a DJ enamored of intimate sunrise sessions and terrace parties (largely at Düsseldorf’s Tribehouse and Ibiza’s DC10); he quickly found himself among similarly long-form techno peers, including Sven Väth, Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, and Hawtin. Eventually, he met his production partner, Hanover-based Martin Buttrich (who doesn’t quite get the same marquee credit). Since the pair’s first collaboration, 2002’s “Phat Dope Shit,” Dice and Buttrich have striven to imbue each single with a distinct sense of place. “I love dynamics that are not too dry, that are wet like the way you feel the sweat of the people in the air of a club,” says Dice.

To assemble 7 Dunham Place, Dice and Buttrich moved into a creaky Williamsburg loft, shipping over their key equipment in a container that was lost for a month in harbor customs. Once their equipment was recovered, the duo holed up with white wine and pasta, $2 slices, and PlayStation soccer to fuel their 12-hour days, then set about translating the flush of displacement and pleating the energy of their international travels into tracks.

“We talked a lot about how to rearrange the classic vibes and everyday new impressions to hit the fresh groove,” says Dice, a former hip-hop DJ, breakdancer, and MC. “I like when tracks can one minute refresh my memory and another make a new memory.”

The nine-track end result–self-released on Loco Dice’s Desolat label–respects true minimal’s streamlined circuits but expresses no interest in its anonymity. From the aqueous plonk of “Breakfast at Nina’s” to the Balearic chords of “La Esquina” to the resonant chatter of “M Train to Brooklyn,” 7 Dunham Place offers low-compression, high-concept art direction that maintains its own identity even as it strengthens that of Loco Dice.