Michaela Melián

Baden-Baden

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Consisting of six originals and a concluding cover of Roxy Music's majestic "A Song for Europe," Baden-Baden, Michaela Melián's debut solo effort, shows that techno is far from dead, it merely takes on different shapes. In this case, while less glitch-happy than most IDM (the abbreviated percussion loop on "Ignza Guenther House" being a notable exception) and more inclined to Kompakt's microhouse focus, Baden-Baden is very much the kind of techno that can be danced to as well as reflectively enjoyed. Constructed by Melián using everything from cello and melodica to Spanish guitar, with collaborator Carl Oesterhelt providing the beats (and quite well at that -- check out the simple but effective grooves on "Straße"), Melián's suggests a comfortable eclecticism that integrates a variety of sonics and approaches into a warm whole. Often her songs build layer upon layer in the most subtle of fashions, until you find yourself hearing majestic combinations of strings and guitar and odd textures all intertwined. The slow-building opener, "Brautlied," besides demonstrating Melián's ear for album sequencing, suggests everything from Kraftwerk's reflective motorik to minimalist compositions from Pärt and Glass, with Melián adding a beautiful, twinkling edge to the proceedings, like a music box running down a freeway. Similar uses of loops and detailed construction can be heard on songs like "Verkehr," where what sounds like accordion provided both a steady background drone and an abbreviated melody, and the title track, where an almost metallic, siren-like sound provides a nervous tension to the proceedings, matched by the crisp layering of beats. As for "A Song for Europe," Melián uses her very Nico-like singing to create a cover that actually wouldn't have been too out of place on that singer's album The End, beautifully dark and reflective thanks to the string parts and rhythmless, piano-led arrangement.

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