Cologne's Areal has housed a handful of reliable techno/house producers during its first four years. Michaela Dippel, known as Ada, has always come up with the label's most fluid basslines and lively melodies. Her first album, following an annual 12" and the occasional compilation appearance since 2002, deepens this impression while making her out to be sufficiently well-rounded enough to make a varied, consistently pleasurable full-length. A couple previously released tracks are reimagined; she replicates Tracey Thorn's vocals from Everything But the Girl's "Each and Everyone" over the gliding sweep of "Blindhouse," and then she reclaims the vocals she contributed to Metope's "Livedriver" (in which she declares her affection for an ambulance driver) and places them over a production that dexterously juggles coarse and sensitive elements, from dashes of sawtooth acid bass to chiming, reverberant keyboard hooks. Though some of the best tracks are thoroughly soft-hued and seductively mesmeric -- good luck finding a more inviting opening line than "Eve"'s "Close your eyes and wet your lips," even though it's doctored to resemble the voice of an android -- Ada's productions are just as compelling when they're countering the easy-on-the-ears sounds with some neck-snapping abrasiveness. Take "The Red Shoes," where nearly comical whirls, buzzes, and shrieks set up lilting synths and bopping rhythms that are equally melodic. The two mixes of "Cool My Fire" add further continuity; in the first version, Ada's in woozy dancefloor mode, while the version that ends the album leaves the club for a moonlit drive directed by David Lynch and scored by Angelo Badalamenti. Blondie deserves as much attention as Superpitcher's Here Comes Love and Michael Mayer's Touch, two other techno-rooted style-shifting albums that were released in 2004. It wipes the floor with both of them. The only downside is that it doesn't include "Lovelace," a spectacular A-side released earlier in the year. But that can be forgiven, thanks to an unexpected, dreamy pop-house cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps." In some parallel universe, it's a popular prom theme.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman