Johannes Heil

20,000 Leagues Under the Skin

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Approaching this particular release presents a bit of a dilemma. In good old-fashioned Rick Wakeman form, all of the songs bear the same song title, but are different movements of an entire composition, numbered out of sequence. Does it make more sense to program the CD player to listen to the album according to the order of its parts, or is it better to listen straight through? Either way it's sequenced, 20,000 Leagues Under the Skin is an excursion into the future of techno done tastefully. Hypnotic percussion workouts are deep-fried in some dubbed-out keyboard washes that would fit right at home on classic Chain Reaction records (especially "Pt. 05," which is really song two on the disc) or recent recordings by Detroit minimalist Theorem ("Pt. 11," which is actually song number six). Heil knows how to pull out all the stops, attacks, beats, breaks, and washes with great versatility. He knows when to pull out all the stops and when to let a composition breathe as opposed the time-honored tech-house tradition of layering loop upon loop. Lacking filler from start to finish, 20,000 Leagues Under the Skin is easily his most focused and accomplished full-length to date.

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