Thomas Fehlmann Lowflow

[Plug Research; 2004]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: IDM, techno-pop, happy cycling
Others: What we’ve got here is some nice, even-tempered downtempo electronica. It’s repetitive, as is the nature of this sort of thing, but Fehlmann does a fine job of breaking up his buoyant processions wi

What we've got here is some nice, even-tempered downtempo electronica. It's repetitive, as is the nature of this sort of thing, but Fehlmann does a fine job of breaking up his buoyant processions with some deftly placed breaks. Lowflow's relaxed tempo doesn't vary all that much from track to track, and there isn't much concern with heady emotional affectation. These are solid, non-confrontational techno progressions for the chill-out room. Some tracks are moodier than others but not so much so that they'll send you over the edge. It's probably a good thing that electronic artists are still making semi-conventional music like this, for I fail to see the value in teaming Emo with IDM. It's a recently popularized hybrid (Postal Service is probably the best known example) that comes off as more of a novelty than either collaborator would be likely craft on their own respective releases.

Though Lowflow is efficient, somewhat streamlined come-down music, it occasionally retains some distinct and curious touches. The opener, for example, is augmented with sleigh bells creating a sort of muted winter wonderland vibe that intrigues. It's nothing amazing, really, but next to many of the somewhat blasé tracks on display, it seems quite innovative. Peppered with Dabrye-aided interludes, Lowflow lets its glitch-hop flag fly most directly on the glassy robot march of "Alice Springs." The following track, "Springer," brings back the sleigh bells along with the markedly glitch-centric noises. I'd be lying if I didn't say there's a persistent familiarity running through this release. Anyone who, like myself, has been on that long post-Aphex Twin journey through the myriad realms of headphone-friendly proto-techno atmospheres might want to wait for something a little more original.

There it is again. I'm getting sick of myself with this editorial qualification. But I can't deny that I consistently want something new. I may be able to see strengths in the consistency and singularity of purpose in artists like Explosions in the Sky or Iron & Wine, artists that are not so much doing anything revelatory but succeed in refining an established form to their liking. But there is a definite lack of memorable personality or gravity to these tracks that the aforementioned genrefied artists have in spades. Something like the tricky robo-shuffle of "Feat" or the murky meandering of the album's closer near this sort of refined expression, but, for the most part, the rest of the release is simply mediocre. Therefore, I recommend Fehlmann to any music fan who hasn't already mined the vast field of head nodding, noodley electronica. Its inessential nature, when placed in the electronica spectrum, could be certainly something of interest to a budding or casual IDM enthusiast.

1. Goldhaar
2. Prefab
3. Interstellar
4. Lindt
5. Slinky
6. Intertwine
7. Hana
8. Alice Springs
9. Springer
10. Andrea is Delighted
11. Intersect
12. Feat
13. Fellmaus