Crate Diggin': Our Favourite Tracks From Roman Flügel’s Back Catalogue

Roman Flügel is one of the electronic music world’s most accomplished artists. After co-founding the respected imprints Playhouse, Ongaku Musik and Klang Elektronik in the early 90s, the Frankfurt scene he helped create became a home base for a new wave of key minimal monikers. His 20-year career has seen him working across several different aliases and projects to cover the entire spectrum of experimental electronics. He first found success as part of the duo Alter Ego, while more recently he’s also put out several acclaimed albums on Dial Records. It’s a sound that’s always been close to us. From our formative years in the 2000s through to present day, records that have passed through Flügel’s many labels and studio have never been far from most of our guest DJs’ reach. They’ve been pretty consistent in our personal playlists too, which is why we’re so stoked to have him back at the club on March 4th. As we look forward to seeing him return to Room One, we dusted off the relevant section of our collection to pick out some of our favourites from one of electronic music’s most rich and rewarding back catalogues.

Low Pt. 1 – Soylent Green [Playhouse]

It’s difficult to tell what’s happening on Low Pt. 1 when the needle hits the first groove; for a while it’s little more than a kick and clicks bubbling away ominously, until cymbal splashes pave way for an eerie melody creeping up on you like a whale crying in the ocean. Like so much of the best minimal, it’s subtle and slow burning, but beyond that there’s an undercurrent of something just a little bit sinister.

On The Balcony – Soylent Green [Playhouse]

On the Balcony couldn’t be more jazz-influenced if he’d made it using a saxophone sample pack, but that’s not a problem when he does it so well: the percussion is built around a few skittish shuffles, while an off-key bleep rings around rolling chords. That’s not what makes it so enticing though: once you’ve got used to the simple drum arrangement, a shrill melody glistens over you like it’s swirling through your soul. It’s cleansing and piercing in equal measure, but that’s the one thing that keeps you drawn in.

Fkk – Roman IV [Landomat 2000]

In a career spanning two decades Flügel’s covered almost every style going, but the one constant through much of his work is a focus on hooks: tracks rarely change from one stanza to the next, but what he does in those few bars is always effective. On Fkk that means taking his customary subtle jitters and adding a dicey rolling snare, while a simple piano chord flutters over the same few notes nonchalantly. At face value it shouldn’t be so remarkable, but those few components result in an utterly seductive deep house weapon.

Pardon – Eight Miles High [Klang Elektronik]

Plenty of Flügel’s stuff is pretty out-there, but of his whole back catalogue Pardon might be his most adventurous trip. Subby bleeps and brushes run off each other as strings pluck away urgently, then zing! A myriad of computerised groans and far-flung woodwind notes, exploding like a kaleidoscope with all the subtlety of a cat running across a xylophone. Then just like that, it’s gone: it’s over before it’s even had the chance to go anywhere, but that’s exactly the point of it.

Pattern 13 – Roman Flügel [Ongaku Musik]

When a video of Zip playing at Sunwaves 15 landed on YouTube a couple of days after the festival, the comments section was filled with the usual trail of trainspotters looking to ID his selections. ‘tracks on delivery’, someone commented at the point where the Perlon mastermind teases in Pattern 13. It only took a couple of days before Tracks on Delivery Pt. 4 had doubled in value on Discogs. Almost 4 years later, you still won't find a copy anywhere online for less than £40. This kind of reaction is more than standard with stuff Zip unearths, but for a record as special as this it should come as even less of a surprise. Like so much of Flügel’s work, Pattern 13 is all about loops: the kick just thuds away to give it some weight, then those gorgeous chiming bells earnestly drift in. And like all of the best music, there are several layers of emotion attached to it: on the one hand there’s something blissful and serene in their ringing, but at the same time you can’t help but feel them pulling at your heartstrings.

Song with Blue – Roman Flügel [Dial]

Frankfurt’s minimal scene might be going through a renaissance right now, but its heyday had long since passed when Flügel chose Dial Records to put out his Fatty Folders LP in 2011. He threw everything at the canvas for his first deep house full-length, but it’s the subtlety of Song With Blue that remains the most memorable. Soft percussion brushes patter away over rolling pads, while a delicate piano loop meanders wistfully round your head. Where Flügel had previously hidden behind different aliases to present a new sound, but the whole LP was him laying everything bare as Roman Flügel. That’s the secret to Song With Blue; he doesn’t rely on any weapon other than melancholy itself. If Soylent Green or Roman IV was Flügel crafting the sound and excitement of the after party deep into the weekend, then Song With Blue was just the long bus journey into work on the following Monday morning.
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