Tensnake – Glow

Tensnake – Glow

Emerging in the mid 2000’s, German producer Marco Niemerski (aka Tensnake) only began creating a big stir in late 2010, largely because of his Coma Cat EP. The single, ‘Coma Cat’, swept through clubs and brought something that the year had never really heard before. Fundamentally it was a house track, but it was the way that his 70’s disco influence had crossed over with the popular genre to produce something so unique and relevant that made it popular. With this is mind, it was interesting to see where Tensnake had progressed, and what he had developed with his recent 16-track release, Glow.

Although Tensnake might be from the same record label that houses the big-name likes of Eric Prydz and Sebastian Ingrosso, he is no EDM artist. Tensnake is an experimenter, and has proven it on Glow by taking the conventions of EDM and pushing them into a completely different realm and vibe. Encompassing his childhood influences from soul, disco and funk, he expands the familiar balearic bass from popular house into a much more spacey feel. Incorporating squelchy guitar riffs, bubbling drum lines and eclectic-piano breaks, Tensnake slowly drifts between genres like a musical Venn diagram.

Glow begins strongly. Opening with a haunting vocal piece from MNEK in ‘First Song’, it sets an empowering mood for the album. It’s disjointed baseline and splintered chords emphasise Niemerski’s goal to innovate, whilst contrasting beautifully with the next track, ‘Love Sublime’. It throws us into the world of boogie: a bumping bass, sliced guitar riffs from soul-man Nile Rodgers and a solid vocal from Fiora. This track embodies the nu-disco sound that he is trying to communicate – yet, for some reason, it begins to feel stale. If we think back to his last productions which have been of great success, they all last around 6-7 minutes, and what you often get from this sort of length is experimentation. Therefore, when a track with such potential is crammed into just under 4 minutes, he inevitably loses some space for creativity. His longer work can easily be divided into three or four sections, each with slightly different vibes, progression and influence. Shamefully, you cannot help but think that maybe, he was comprising his own creativity in order to cater for a much wider audience – whether it was a conscious decision or not.

Fortunately, as you listen through the album, there are some strong points of revival. ‘No Colour’ is an exceptional number, with Tensnake displaying his still-considerable aptitude when incorporating a few more foundations from the house music genre. Although short, you can still feel the glimmering glows of influence as you listen through. The oscillating bass wobbles are reminiscent of Skream’s early work and the scrunchy, salty baseline bears more than a passing resemblance to those of Kavinsky. Other tracks on a similar level include ‘No Relief’, ‘See Right Through’ and ‘Selfish’, with the latter being a refreshing reassurance that Niemerski’s flower-powered house really can work. Again, too short, but the vocal from Jeremy Glenn has great tone, giving Niemerski the confidence to bring an ecstatic array of 80’s pop-percussion from his funk-inspired roots.

As the album comes to a close we stumble across ‘58BPM’. With its peculiar tempo and expertly produced vocal melody, it is Glow’s strongest single and an ode to Niemerski’s developing, yet still versatile sound. Although Glow has some disappointing pitfalls, it doesn’t take away the fact that it is a strong hybrid-propellant for the recent uprise of nu-disco, which is certainly set to grow exponentially throughout the year. With this in mind, it will be interesting to hear Tensnake’s next development – one that will hopefully allow him to fully display his cross-genre talents.

Jack Turner