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Thomas Fehlmann
(Plug Research)

If you were one of those people (like me) who was a little bit let down by the last Orb album, fortunately alumnus Thomas Fehlmann has released Lowflow as a fix. Continuing down the path that his more physical, almost dancey work have taken on the Kompakt label, this newest release is one that will rattle the subwoofers and rub the minimal electronic lobe in your brain just the right way. Detroit artist Dabrye (who has released work on the Ghostly International label) also appears on the album via three short tracks that grew out of a collaboration between the two.

"Goldhaar" opens the disc and drops booming low end while hushed filter belches provide the crux of action on the track while everything from ghostly choruses to disembodied chimes wander in and out of the mix. "Prefab" drops off into a minimal dub landscape that slowly and surely builds up a head of steam until it's banging along with flatulent electronics, a rumbling bassline, and a beat that sounds like Jack Dangers had a hand in.

Fehlmann really cracks things off in a few places, including the instrumental hip-hop feel of "Hana" and "Springer," which sounds as close to The Orb as anything they've put out recently. Heck, he even delves into an almost minimal house feel on "Andrea Is Delighted." One of the unique things about the release (and something that Fehlmann does so well) is how it bridges different sounds so well and makes them feel like they go together. Although the release has sort of a minimal German electronic feel, it's filtered through kind of a southern California filter that makes it stand out from other artists doing similar work. Perhaps it's because Fehlmann has lived in several different places and been involved with so many different groups (one of his first bands was with a German avant-noise outfit) over the course of the past twenty years that allows him to simply not want to fall into a simple cubbyhole, and that's just fine by me.

Rating: 7.75