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Groof: Reality Fails

'In the best tradition of Spanish minimal techno', Codex Europa reviews Roberto Gemelin's techno project Groof.


Groof is veteran Spanish producer Roberto Gemelín a.k.a. Robert Calvin. From the tasteful dystopian chic of the mushroom cloud-featuring artwork you'd expect this to be a pitch-black selection, but in fact it's a very varied mini-album with a wide stylistic range that doesn't come at the expense of quality. All the tracks have some distinctive features and the closing track in particular is completely at odds with the tone of the artwork.

The opening track 'Angel Exterminador' only partly lives up to its grim title. There's no fade in and it starts at full tempo yet despite its restless, sharp sweeping elements and metallic textures, the atmosphere it produces is cold, but positive and strangely luminous, with shimmering tones providing a light in the darkness before a sublime fade out.

From there we move to 'Diagrama Esporadico' which is nostalgic in the best sense of the word: a well-executed update of the spacey mid 1990s productions by pioneering artists such as Thomas Heckmann. Rippling arpeggiated sequences and tight, restrained percussion create a real sense of space and elegant momentum. A beguiling track that I keep returning to.

a tense, ominous track in the best tradition of Spanish minimal techno

'Gummy' contains distant corroded traces of Gemelín's vocoder featuring electro/synth-oriented work such as the Star Whores project. It's a techno(ish) track but also features what sounds like a heavily filtered vocal sample offseting numerous shifting filter effects. A good track to gradually build up the pace in a set. In a very different mode, 'Amb' is a tense, ominous track in the best tradition of Spanish minimal techno, even if the pace is less frantic than the hardest examples. It's a fascinating struggle for supremacy between the atonal dance elements and waves of dark drones trying and failing to corrode the structure of the track.

'Vac04' is based around an almost irritating funky-tribal sequence kept in focus by strict percussion and cold dub elements that manage to retain the interest, especially as a layer of white noise gradually seeps into the mix. The closer 'Islands' is well-produced but anaemic and a little complacent with a similar dubby-summery feel to Terrence Fixmer's recent When the Sun release. Compared to the highlights of 'Angel Exterminador', 'Diagrama Esporadico' and 'Amb' it seems superfluous. Nevertheless, this is a really interesting release that opens up new space and offers something distinctive.

Warm Up Recordings WU030
Available here

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