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U96 transhuman
Artist: U96 / Woflgang Flür
Title: Transhuman
Genre: Electronica / Electro / Techno
Release Date: 4th September 2020
Label: UNLTD Recordings


Album Review

The two legends U96, popular for their mainstream techno hits in the 90s, and WOLFGANG FLÜR, who gained his fame of having been the drummer of legendary KRAFTWERK back when they released their most important records, are back again with a new collaboration. After having worked together on two tracks, that were released two years ago on the U96 album ‘Reboot’, both sides now released a complete joint album. The mixture seems to be legit as the first two tracks have attracted some attention.

WOLFGANG FLÜR has been a successful musician after his time with KRAFTWERK, yet he picks up their sound achievements and influence which needs no further explanation. On the other hand, U96 have always been in the middle of being pop stars - their first single ‘Das Boot’ (1991) is considered a mainstream breakthrough for techno music - and nearly being traitors for techno music equally. To be precise they split the techno fans in two: The ones that wanted their favourite genre to go mainstream and the others that wanted to stay in the underground. Nevertheless, U96 had their legitimate fame. So, what would you expect of the now released album ‘Transhuman’? Did they resume the route from where they left in 2018? The answer can only be yes, but let us see inside.

‘Transhuman’ is a good opening title track and predicts what may come. Soon you will experience some typical melodies that reminds you of KRAFTWERK, which obviously is the influence of WOLFGANG FLÜR. The song is peppered with many different robot vocoder voices, but comes with clean sung vocals often enough too. The mixing has been well done, it is totally balanced and declares its own profundity. Yet again this reminds you on KRAFTWERK, whose records has always been crystal clear. At least it gives you the impression what the whole album would sound like. On the exact same day when the album has been released, a video clip for the title track has been released as well, which is surely worth to be watched:



‘Hamburg - Düsseldorf’ tells the song’s story within its name already. But to this century’s likes it soon evolves to a way more contemporary atmosphere, not to say it was made for the dance floor. But it is true, you would easily be able to get this song’s spark to your feet at the later hours in the clubs - or even at the very early hours. It has a lot of trance driven house mood, enough to be danced to. The story is reduced to itself and just contains the title words. But there is nothing more needed. ‘Zukunfsmusik (Radiophonique)’ is the apparent radio edit of one track of both parties’ first collaboration back in 2018, including little minor changes. But aside of being shortened, it has nothing too special added in comparison to the original. Though this song could easily be considered to be from the 70s. It is nostalgic in a good sense. ‘Specimen’ is a way more dance floor and club-oriented track. With its glitchy effects and a sweaty sequence, this number will immediately catch your ears and put massive amounts of energy straight to your dancing feed. It is the first moment you get the impression that there really is a techno legend involved.

Techno? Yes, indeed ‘Clone’ pulls you into the darkest of the night right off. The structure and the sound could be confused with a typical one of the glorious HECKMANN himself. What a huge song! Admittedly this is not the first thought of what a collaboration that includes WOLFGANG FLÜR would sound like. But no offense, just close your eyes and let the night happen. ‘To the Limit’ picks you up where the previous one left you, but lets you indulge and dream a bit deeper. Influences from the technoid old school 90s and 80s are obvious, even though the participation of WOLFGANG FLÜR is clearly recognizable again. ‘Zufallswelt’ brings back the nostalgic influences even more. You cannot deny that some participants once have been at KRAFTWERK. The sound is razor sharp and minimalism in this one is above all things. The title comes as a simple spoken but slightly sung voice sample and is included in a repetitive way. We live in a random word. True story. Whereas the predecessor gets by with little text, ‘Planet in Fever’ comes along with lots of sung phrases and voice samples that only add to the storyline. The story is and simple and represents our zeitgeist: The climate change is being criticised. A real bonus is that some female vocals are embedded nicely into the sound structure.

‘Shifted Reality’ starts with beautiful arpeggios and sequences and develops into a down-to-earth number. It shows real skill and nerdy passion when the filters are driven into slight sweeps later just to really get started from there. The song is balanced through and through. ‘Kreiselkompass’ begins a bit dreamy and yet crazy, not to say weird. The tracks need some time and probably a second play, but again the nerds will love it at a glance. Just wait for the playful bassline, maybe this one will catch your ears. Another playful song is ‘Data Landscape’. You will at least now hear that experienced professionals wrote the album. The song in a whole is a masterpiece, though it is not meant for the underground techno dance floor. But there are many places to enjoy music, the clubs are not the only one. The beginning of ‘Transhumanist’ is even more weird with its rhythmically use of voice samples. But it fits as the number gets going very soon. Everything written about the previous song can be applied to this track, if this does not fit the words even better. ‘Transhumanist’ is perfection.

The robot vocoder voices driven ‘Sexersizer’ is a fun track at the first sight. But give it a try to be a real dance number. There comes an hour every night in which everybody wishes that the song would be this one. The track strolls a bit, but has a lot of power in its soul. Relax your muscles and your mind and simply enjoy. ‘Maschinenraum’ is a very bassline and drums driven song. It evolves to a dark mood if not to the darkest mood. First you could think that it could have been written for a gripping computer game soundtrack. The track builds up nice and slowly and keeps the essential mood long enough. Somehow some streaming and download providers admit that ‘Let Yourself Go’ was solely written by U96. And that could be true as it refuses to fit into the joint album. It is much more modern and contemporary than the rest. Viewed individually and without the album, it is a good song. So why not release it apart from the album? Sadly, the same applies for ‘Let Yourself Go (Beatsole Remix)’, because it is an even more modern sounding remix of the latter. Do not get it wrong, both have their legitimacy. But on this album these tracks are not at the right place. They are too much pop music and could do better there. To be fair, you will see that U96 already did exact this as single releases in advance to the album. But why the two tracks ended up on this record remains a mystery.

A joint album from in particular two well-known collaborators can be dangerous in terms of success. It arouses high expectations that one side or the other would be more dominant or that the combination would vanish in a mid-grey rustle. There are so many joint records that failed those expectations, just because one influence is more predominant all the time. But this cannot be said about ‘Transhuman’. It is more or less exactly in between both participating artists - from song to song one side prevails, but above the line it brings out only the best of the two parties. The sound in the club-oriented songs could be a bit more impulsive and impressive in regards of bass, but that can only be criticised if the songs would stand out of the album which in a way has to be homogenous. Overall, the record is mixed well but conservatively, which does not have to be a disadvantage.


Tracklist

01. Transhuman
02. Hamburg - Düsseldorf
03. Zukunftsmusik (Radiophonique)
04. Specimen
05. Clone
06. To the Limit
07. Zufallswelt
08. Planet in Fever
09. Shifted Reality
10. Kreiselkompass
11. Data Landscape
12. Transhumanist
13. Sexersizer
14. Maschinenraum
15. Let Yourself Go
16. Let Yourself Go (Beatsole Remix)


Line-up

Wolfgang Flür – Vocals, Production
Ingo Hauss – Vocals, Production
Hayo Lewerentz – Production
Miriam Suarez – Female vocals on track 8


Website

https://www.facebook.com/U96reboot


Cover Picture

U96 transhuman


Rating

Music: 9.5
Sound: 9.0
Total: 9.3 / 10




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