Helena Hauff

Discreet Desires

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Hamburg-based DJ and producer Helena Hauff began releasing records in 2013, making stripped-down, monochromatic techno and acid house tracks in line with releases on labels like L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) and The Trilogy Tapes. Her first full-length, and third release for Actress' Werkdiscs imprint, retains the one-take grittiness of her previous releases, but it has a much wider scope, sounding much fuller and more melodic while avoiding sounding polished or sterile. The influence of vintage electro and industrial/EBM was always evident in her work, but it comes into full focus here, with spooky goth melodies and snapping, marching beats. The work of veteran Dutch electro revivalist Legowelt comes to mind almost immediately upon hearing tracks like "Spur," which frame expertly structured beats around chilling, intelligent melodies. The tracks on this album are far more concise than many of the tracks on Hauff's prior EPs, and even when they stretch past six or seven minutes, they still seem more to the point than some of her previous recordings, which occasionally felt meandering and monotonous. The album picks up the pace halfway through, echoing the exciting tempos and sci-fi-inspired melodies of classic Detroit electro artists such as Drexciya. "Tryst" builds and releases in a particularly thrilling manner. The album ends on a tense note with the suspenseful "Silver Sand and Boxes of Mould," which is minimal, but not in an endlessly looping way. Instead, it's calmly paced, with heartbeat-like thumps and soft ripples of sound over creeping synth chords. Discreet Desires is a fascinating debut album, demonstrating the right way to transition from an underground, 12"-only electronic producer to a full-scale album artist, greatly expanding upon previous ideas while avoiding sounding overblown and remaining rough and exhilarating.

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