Few other producers do the magpie approach quite as adeptly and skilfully as Cosmin Nicolae. The Romanian producer’s greatest talent is his ability to make the listener hear sounds or elements that could be borrowed from another record but which on closer inspection, turn out to be merely his own interpretations. This is audible on the title track of his latest missive for Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons, where dreamy chords lead into a wiry minimal techno arrangement. It could be Robert Hood but it’s not visceral and frenetic enough. Equally, those dubbed out drums that anchor the track sound like Frozen Border but are looser more fluid, while the acid line is too cheeky to be the work of a ‘serious’ retro Chicago–inspired producer.
The same kind of guessing game applies on “De Dans”. There, Nicolae starts the groove with some epic techno chords, which quickly veer into stabs that Dave Clarke used on “Red 2”, but again they are too dissected and less bombastic than the Baron’s signature 90s sound. The dubby bass drum that holds the arrangement together is similar to a Dehnert production, but as soon as he starts to sound like one of his peers, Cosmin drops wave upon wave of doubled up snare drums. They recall Plastikman’s classic “Spastik”, but aren’t precise and militaristic enough to be Hawtin’s own. It’s a guessing game what a Cosmin TRG record will throw at the listener and that air of unpredictability is what makes “Fizic” such a compelling listen.