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Schneider TM

Chalk up yet another artist making quite a direction change after their first recording. Back in 1998, Schneider TM released the excellent Moist album, which was sort of a cross between post rock and the gurgly electronic sounds of Cologne (think Mouse On Mars and Mike Ink). It was an excellent album that blended seperate styles into 9 tracks of instrumental bliss, but now he's back with his follow-up and it's headed in quite different places.

First off, Zoomer is inherently more of a pop music album, but that's not a bad thing. Almost every track on the release has vocals of some sort, and the overall sound of the release has moved into more of a glitch-pop territory. There are still plenty of those slurpy electronic sounds that seem almost definited by geographic location, but it's a much breezier affair, as if Air and Daft Punk have been cross-bred with The Notwist and Mouse On Mars. The release opens with one of the best tracks on the entire disc in "Reality Check," and it's a one of the extreme examples of the direction Dirk Dresselhaus has gone in. Starting out with a strummy acoustic guitar and vocodored vocals, eventually little clicks and clacks start making their way into the mix before a thick, rolling beat slides in and gives the track a nice backbone.

The second track on the disc (and first single released from it) moves in similar circles, with surreal lyrics about melding animals in dreams which bounces along with another thick beat and clippety clop noises. It's another sing-along, and the disc doesn't stop there. "Abyss" goes on a bit too long through an oddly off-kilter track in which multiple layers of heavily filtered vocals are piled on top of buzzing keyboards and trickling electronics. Unfortunately, while the new style is pretty quirky and catchy, there are moments where Dresselhaus just lets things go on for far too long. "DJ Guy" is a nearly 7 minute track that sputters along with some interesting elements, but a single looped vocal sample, the track never really seems to go anywhere (although if it's a statement about the repetitive nature of most big-name mixdiscs that are released lately, it makes a point).

"Turn On?" finds the vocal duties handed over to a fellow named Max Turner, and despite never having heard of him before, his flow is surprisingly similar to (although less crass than) Kool Keith. It provides a nice changeup of styles, and after a miss-and-hit one-two combination of instrumental tracks ("Hunger" and the shoegazer-glitch pop of "999"), the album closes out with the slower, but quite lovely "Cuba TM." Mixing slide guitar (courtesy of Lambchop player Paul Niehaus) and warm keyboards into the clever programming of the track, it's a bit more melancholy than the rest of the release, but helps give the album a little more range in sound and is a nice comedown. Overall, it's hard to say whether you'd like the disc if you enjoyed his first release. There are still familiar elements, but the main direction of things have changed a fair amount. Despite a couple soft spots, it's also quite a fun release, arriving just in time on the tail end of summer.

Rating: 7.25