German based techno producer Johanness Heil is well known for his often dark take on techno/electronica, particularly on albums like the excellent "Future Primitive" on Kanzleramt.
So his latest full length offering released on Sven Vath's rather trendy Cocoon imprint might come as a surprise or even quite a shock to some of his hardcore fans, not that Heil sticks with one style of electronica, in the past he has displayed a talent for producing anything from Hip Hop to Electro to pure ambient etc, but its the fact that "Loving" is full of bouncy, uplifting floor filling and almost crowd pleasing tracks at times which might upset some of Heil's die hard fans.
From the opening track "Hallelujah" we are instantly introduced to Heil's new sonic terrain with a two step style beat in a "We Will Rock You" by Queen style before heading into a sound with elements of traditional African music, with its almost cheesy tribal chants, the track develops nicely though with some deep synths and epic strings giving it an uplifting feel.
"All This One" sets us up for a taste of what's to come over the rest of the album with its minimal techno groove and bouncing stabs. "The Ace" picks up the pace as it starts off with a solid 4/4 groove and an almost "French Kiss" inspired organ sequence, the track is a real builder and reaches some almost epic highs with its deeply layered synths and strings". Then we have "Glockenspiel" as the title suggests this minimal groover layers a melodic glockenspiel vibe riding on top of a samba influenced techno groove.
Midway into the album we have "Big City Nights" which takes us away on some fat analogue bass antics with a disco feel and the use of emotive strings give it that uplifting feel yet again.
"Freedom Of Heart" starts of with a nice edgy groove full of electro toms and a simple bassline, then introduces a nice lightly phased piano and synth riff, it all builds up nicely with the introduction of a tasty string and pad combo and further funky synth keys, a clever arrangement keeps the track moving along with breakdowns and build ups designed for the dance floor.
"Halo Static" takes a more experimental approach with its glitchy flanged and bit crushed tech/electro beats and moody strings and abstract melodies and some clean technoid stabs, think speedy J meets Plastikman and you're halfway there.
"Twenty Three" returns with a chunky groove and dreamy atmosphere and the most uplifting keys and bassline combo on the album, then with a lovely deep and moody dub techno twist to add a sense of mystery only to return to the comforting vibe it opened up with, Heil turns it up another notch with a simple yet affective acid refrain, this is possibly the best track on the album...
"Could This Be" starts of with a slightly cheesy almost "Love is in the air" bassline and a typical house groove and some smokey organ stabs which then progresses into an almost handbag house territory with its diva vocal sound bites and its twisted acid sequences, quirky flutes, but the further addition of what sounds like a distorted lead guitar and cheap orchestral samples turns this into a bit of a Frankensteins monster of a club track.
The album closes off with the title track "Loving" which ventures closer to deep house with its strange mix of catchy simplistic bass and melodies with a slight reggae time signature layered with cinematic strings, lush female vocals and stabbing synths..
Although I couldn't really recommend this album to most fans of Heil's past darker strains of techno or to anyone looking for something new and groundbreaking in electronica, but I do feel this works very well as an album of DJ friendly techno/house tracks but lacks Heil's usual sense of identity to a large degree but Johannes has certainly proved himself yet again as a varied and very talented producer..