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Legowelt – The TEAC Life review

Not enough albums come accompanied by a vitriolic rant from an artist directed at their peers. Thank you then Legowelt, real name Danny Wolfers, for his highly amusing (and pretty much spot-on) written preface to The TEAC Life, which is, at our count, the Dutchman’s 26th album. The other important fact about this album, of course, is that Wolfers is giving it away for free. (As well as drawing fans’ attention to his endlessly diverting website, the zip file comes with a humble request for donations.) On his website, he describes his 14-track opus as “deep, tape saturated forest-techno”, as adroit a summation of his sound as any scribe has ever managed. He further clarifies this by saying: “And when I say techno I don’t mean that boring contemporary shit they call techno nowadays” –  a withering assessment of what he calls “pretentious douchebag” producers.

It’s clear that Wolfers, an analogue fetishist with a passion for Chicago house, Detroit techno, throbbing EBM, Italo and the vintage electro sound of The Hague with which he is synonymous, has no time for those who prefer style over substance. It’s important to note that he’s not merely an analogue dinosaur lashing out at the stereotypes of the digital era (Wolfers said in a recent interview that he “doesn’t care how it is made, it’s about the notes you play”) – instead he reserves his ire for those making dispensable, rudderless music lacking in character and class – qualities that Legowelt’s own productions never lack.

Given this context, The TEAC Life exudes something of an exotic charm; perhaps Wolfers’ lively choice of knitted sweaters, or the cheesy nature posters of far flung locations that adorn his home studio – the kind you’d find in the waiting room in a doctor’s surgery – seep into his productions. The title is an obvious nod to the equipment made to construct the album (“cheap ass digital and analogue crap synthesizers recorded in a ragtag bedroom studio on a TEAC VHX cassette deck”, he explains), an admission which, rather than spoiling the mystique, only adds to it.

The 14 tracks paint incredibly vivid images, from the audible tape hiss and raw drums on opener “The Night Wind”, which leads us to the windswept landscape of “Half Moon 106” and the slightly more polished Chicagoan jack of “The Soul of a City”. The Virgo-esque string led romanticism of “Metro Airport” is one of many high points, although consuming the album as a whole will inevitably lead to fatigue, as few of the tracks clock in at under six minutes – and there are only so many noodling house and techno epics you can digest in one sitting. That, of course, is a minor gripe, and there are plenty of gems to be found in the latter stages of The TEAC Life – the crystalline synths of “Dolphin Day 1992” and floating  narcosis of closer “U can fly away from the hood” stand out in particular.

Aaron Coultate

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