Ricardo Villalobos

Love Family Trax

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Not only a prolific microhouse producer for labels like Perlon, Playhouse, and Frisbee Tracks, Ricardo Villalobos became one of the most revered DJs in the German dance community. A major player based on either facet of his career, it's surprising that 2002's Love Family Trax was the first full-length release -- whether a mix or a disc consisting strictly of his own productions -- to bear his name. Falling somewhere between Zip's Superlongevity and Dan Bell's The Button-Down Mind, Love Family Trax is based on quirk-filled, minimally structured house productions that are swift -- but not necessarily fast -- in tempo. Basslines are supple and vibrant enough, but as with a lot of the 12" releases that come from an ever-swelling roster of small German imprints, the devil's in the details -- the slight accents, clipped vocal samples, and odd blips that can help a mix become equally sleek, carnal, and fun. In the hands of Villalobos, these qualities are in full supply and are mixed with fluid grace. Along with three of the mixer's own prime productions, "Bredow," "Früh," and "Panpot Spliff," tracks from Thomas Brinkmann's Soul Center, Luciano, Akufen, Bruchstücke's Styro 2000, and Eight Miles High factor in as highlights. There aren't any lulls or dramatic builds to be heard. It's just a steady current up to the very end, where Sieg Über die Sonne takes you out with an abstract ambient piece of slightly unsettling wonder. It's no Taka Taka -- released just a year later through Cocoon -- but an admirer of any of the involved should find plenty to shake to.

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