Public Works + IN·SIGHT Present:
DJ TENNIS (Life and Death)
ROMAN FLÜGEL (Dial / Live at Robert Johnson)
A longtime collector of music, Recondite had his first experience with drum machines and hardware synths just a few years ago in a small studio next to the forest in lower Bavaria. It wasn't long after that he moved to Berlin to build up Plangent Records, where the artist rapidly established his name. Plangent #001 was well-received, and with three strong EPs released in 2011, he grabbed the attention of Scuba, who included "Backbone" in his DJ KiCKS mix and quickly put out two Recondite remixes on Hot Flush.
On Acid, his full-length debut, was delivered in 2012 via the sleek Los Angeles imprint, Acid Test. The Absurd Recordings sublabel had already featured revered releases from Donato Dozzy and Tin Man, and Recondite's LP garnered a great deal of positive feedback from the press and major producers alike.
Continuing to release on his own Plangent series, he also put out the EC10 EP on Dystopian in early 2013 - a record that's as tough as it is experimental. Progressively, this all lead up to his sophomore LP and first release on Ghostly International, Hinterland. The record acknowledges the finests moments in his previous releases, and ultimately creates what he believes is something that captures the personality of Rottal-Inn - a district in southeastern Bavaria, Germany and his hometown.It is easy to agree that Recondite has been playing his cards right. His earlier releases on Plangent were strong, and lead him to release with an assortment of labels that have drawn attention to his productions from a variety of audiences. With a growing demand from international bookings, Hinterland - out in on Ghostly International - continues his ongoing streak of carefully crafted output.
DJ Tennis born in the 70's and raised between New Jersey, Sicily and Parma in a family who paid just a passing attention to music. No relatives played any musical instruments, nor were there any around the home - music was never given any special amount of love in the Romano household. But despite this, and perhaps as a direct result of this, Romano's creative and artistic attitude has always centred around music: singing, creating and collecting weird and noisy musical instruments at every turn.
In 1988 before embarking on computer science studies he was already playing and singing in college bands and had an indie rock radio show on a local radio station in Palermo.
Recording with bands, organising events and DJing at the local tennis club where he used to play semi-professionally (his DJ moniker comes from his passion for the sport) became his way to support the costs of his studies, though when he graduated he never imagined he would turn that hobby into his fully-fledged career. Whilst starting out as a DJ he began focusing on promoting new underground music in his country, founding and developing some of the most important Italian underground musical events such as the Elita festival in Milan and the Dissonanze festival in Rome - at the same time creating forward-thinking new promotional concepts around the Italian clubbing scene.
In the early 90s Romano also started producing music for theatre, movie soundtracks and TV commercials, his production skills always taking inspiration from the psychedelic, dark and melancholic sounds of the 60’s, thru to early 2000’s IDM. The range of influences paint a picture of his musical worldview: The Beach Boys, The Who, Talk Talk, Ultravox, XTC, Fugazi, June of 44, Suicide, Radiohead, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Plastikman – into every musical project he poured elements, sounds & feelings from all of these artists and many more.
In 2010, after growing tired of the the more overtly generic output of the contemporary scene he decided to collect all of his musical works and, along with Thugfucker’s Greg Oreck, started a new techno and pop label called Life and Death. The name of the label has a specific meaning, inspired by the socratic method of the maieutic process to turn ‘dead’ elements into a new life, and referring to the hypnotic power of music used in the mesmeric processes for brain therapy. Life And Death was alive.
Romano bases himself in Berlin where he also shares the label experience and a studio with the innovative deep electronic duo Tale of Us, whilst he working hard to create a crew of young and inspired musicians like Clockwork and Esperanza, amongst others. On top of all of this he still maintains his main job is still being a Promoter and a Booking agent in 2012. He may go by the name Tennis but he continues to be a hugely talented all-rounder.
It all started with one of these Chicago Trax compilations on DM/Streetsounds. As a reaction to his thirsting for more of these crazed beats from overseas and with a view to his tight budget, the greatest hits of these expensive, imported 12” singles were soon released in the form of a compendium.
This opened Pandora’s box, for very young Roman Flügel, too. Innocently given to him by his elder brother as a present (“He probably had no idea what he was about to unleash and just wanted to give me some new music”), the dazzle of the unrefined and feverish dance music, furnished with just a few drum machines and inexpensive synthesizers, turned the whole world upside down for the cultivated music pupil from Darmstadt.
After several evenings at Sven Väth’s renowned Omen club, few kilometres further up north, and his mind was made up. Memories of the atmosphere at the legendary Warp or Underground Resistance label nights has put a smile on Flügel’s delicate face ever since – a man who would also make a fine figure as a literature lecturer, poet or thinker. “LFO’s bass, once they had set up their massive range of equipment, was unbelievable", he says laughing. It didn’t take long before the well-trained ear tried out more than just classical melodies. Little by little, he collected a vast array of equipment, bringing forth his first sound experiments and enough courage to give a demo tape to indie fan (that’s what music magazines like Zillo used to call people like that back then) Jörn Elling Wuttke. The latter was a well-known face in Darmstadt’s music scene and often enthused about new electronic music. In him he had found the right partner and Wuttke could hardly believe his spellbound ears.
DJs und Delirium record sellers Ata and Heiko MSO from Frankfurt felt the same. At first they thought someone was making fun of them. It sounded too authentic and unique. The music Flügel and Wuttke had presented to their label Ongaku and Klang Elektronik as Acid Jesus or, rather, Alter Ego, couldn’t possibly come from the little neighbouring town Darmstadt. In Frankfurt, that kind of sound made people think of Detroit. The rest is history and forged an almost holy alliance. Speaking of holy: a humid summer’s day, a crate of beer and a studio in a garage sufficed to found a new label by the name of Playhouse for Holy Garage and to create that certain “surprise” which still excites house clubs today. Comrades-in-arms such as Isolée, Don Disco alias Losoul and Ricardo Villalobos made the label the number one address. So they went on, history was written and the nineties flew by in a jiffy. His degree course in music was in the way: “It seemed obsolete somehow, just to be analyzing church sonatas all day when there were so many interesting things going on around me. When, on top of that, the only semester on modern music was cancelled that year, I decided to leave the university.” Luckily for us all, actually. The electronic intellectual’s productivity is virtually unparalleled and Roman Flügel, the producer, DJ and label co-owner of Ongaku/Klang/Playhouse has meanwhile become a gentle giant in the German electro scene. With his own personal style and the privilege of being independent from the usual constraints of the music industry. A free spirit instead of a sheep. His solo project as Soylent Green (see the latest “La Forca Del Destino” compendium) is just as much of a must as his Alter Ego project with Wuttke, rigorously affirming techno down to the very last detail. He and Wuttke also count as techno Teuton Sven Väth’s favourite producers, who booked the team to produce a series of his own music. Roman’s work as Eight Miles High and Ro 70 show his quieter side, while the remixes (e.g. for Daft Punk, The Human League, Primal Scream, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue) and tracks under his own name (just think of the Arcade rave of “Geht’s Noch”) are light dancefloor affirmations.
Roman also champions the cause of this in his job as an entertainer. Tried and tested by the stadium and pop hit “Rocker”, Flügel and Wuttke can be proud of being able to set any auditorium in the world on fire with their live set. DJ Roman Flügel can say the same of himself. Be it his sets at Offenbach’s Robert-Johnson, Amnesia on Ibiza or Berlin’s Tollhaus Berghain/Panorama Bar: instead of disappearing in trivial and meaningless elevator clicks, he prefers to make his way through 20 years of “rave”. Contemporary music that includes bleeping house or quirky techno meets futuristic Italo-disco and electronica devoid of all provenance.There was a time when you’d call that kind of sound acid house, released cheaper by the dozen on compilations. It all turns full circle again.