From Karaoke To Stardom ‘Little Voodoo Dolls’ (Fenou)

Berlin-dwelling Parisian serves up colourful tech-house outing

Associated as it is with the thriving European techno scene that revolves around superclubs like Paris’ Rex, Moscow’s Propaganda and its principle focal point, Berlin’s cavernous Tresor, to the uninitiated the tech-house nomenclature can conjure up an off-putting functional soullessness. With exotic textures that recall the adventures of early pioneers like Marshall Jefferson as well as latter-day ambient innovators Walls, tech-house is a brilliant example of a sub-genre that can undersell itself. The best examples are, of course, to be celebrated, as this warm-blooded, painterly release demonstrates.

From Karaoke To Stardom is the recording alias of Parisian Jeremy Herpe, who established a name for himself with 2007’s ‘Undo Redo Weirdo’ long-player and his remix work for the likes of labelmates Dapayk & Padberg, Marek Bois and RawTec. At the beginning of 2015, he relocated to the German capital for a new start, both personally and musically, and he begins his Berlin phase with ‘Little Voodoo Dolls’, a long-overdue second outing.

With its broad strokes, from minimal but melodically bright techno to dark-hued filmic atmospherics with the feel of an experimental horror flick soundtrack, ‘Little Voodoo Dolls’ manages to retain a straightforward dance-ability that cleverly takes it beyond the realm of the headphone. Herpe cites Plastikman as among his influences and on tracks like ‘Libera Me Domine’ you can also clearly hear the influence of Detroit and Philadelphia. They’ll have you rocking to the beat, make no mistake.

There’s also an abundance of that soundtrack-to-the-city-at-night vibe that lends a driving, excited vitality, particularly on standout ‘Secretly We Are Ghosts’, which builds into gratifying peaks of pulsating, effervescent synth chords. Elsewhere, swirling washes of shimmering celestial silver mix unexpectedly with an unsettling sample of Charles Bukowski’s voice on ‘Roll The Dice’, a clever twist which makes the more straightforward 4/4 dancefloor futurism of tracks like ‘Loops Des Steps’ and ‘Rue Des Bullets’ work even better. The latter is a play on the name of Parisian metro station, Rue Des Boulets, which makes you shudder in the light of recent events in city. “Somehow you try to put your pain into the songs, for me the album represents some kind of a voodoo doll,” reflected Herpe after completing ‘Little Voodoo Dolls’, but before the Paris attacks last November lending a certain poignancy to proceedings.

As the album reaches its close, a dark European sang-froid comes to the fore, which is underlined with the spoken voice sample of a detachedly cool French-accented female. Though it maintains a propulsiveness consistently throughout the whole piece, it also conveys a conclusive sense of release that neatly brings your journey to an end.

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