The music of Moomin, aka Sebastian Genz, may not have featured on Hamburg’s Smallville imprint as regularly as other artists, but his 2011 debut album ‘The Story About You’ remains one of the label’s most definitive and enduring releases. Perhaps this is not surprising: the dreamy melodicism of his music fits Smallville to a tee, while the rich subtlety of his productions give them a shelf life that far outstrips many of his contemporaries.
Everything about Genz’ release schedule as Moomin reflects the sound of his music: his records come slowly and gracefully on either Smallville or his own label, Closer. Each one works with a similar palette of jazzy instrumentals and punchy drum workouts, conjuring a hypnotic musical landscape where it’s easy to lose track of time. For his sophomore long-player, coming a stately five years after its predecessor, Moomin has not tweaked the formula all that much. The pleasures are to be found in the same place as always: in subtle variations that reward over time and atmospheres as smooth as butter.
"The pleasures are to be found in the same place as always: in subtle variations that reward over time and atmospheres as smooth as butter."
The core dialogue that makes Moomin’s music so pleasurable is between the organic, flowing melodies and the tough drum loops whose repetition feels almost surgical in contrast. The two make for unexpectedly good bedfellows: in opener ‘123‘, a jittery bed of percussion is married to a jaunty seaside melody, and they balance each other perfectly. With later highlight ‘Woman to Woman‘, a set of rising strings and keys conjure ancient ballrooms while a dense drum pattern hammers and stutters along, somehow retaining a sense of elegance.
As opulent as many of these songs are taken individually, the album’s reliance on formula means that some tracks come across without much distinction. The likes of ‘A Minor Thought‘ or ‘Loop No. 1′ are pleasant enough, but don’t stand out as they’re presented, surrounded by very similar sounds and ideas.
"If you’re looking for wild experimentation, look elsewhere. But if you’re here – as many Smallvillle fans will be – for superlative deep house, you’ve found it."
Fortunately Genz has more variation to offer in the album’s nocturnal-leaning second half. Alone sounds like the soundtrack to the hero discovering a magical world, and introduces a series of tracks that turn more towards synthetic textures and melodies. These are a pleasant change, with highlights including the lively bounce and queasy strings of ‘Chemistry‘ and the loose, curious closer ‘Unshaped’.
Perhaps part of the reason for the continued appeal of Moomin’s first album is that although his sound is not miles away from his Smallville cousins, he operates in a universe of his own. His sound rarely changes dramatically yet never feels tired, as Genz finds ever more ways to paint mystery, pleasure and escape with a sound palette devoid of effects and trickery. If you’re looking for wild experimentation, look elsewhere. But if you’re here – as many Smallvillle fans will be – for superlative deep house, you’ve found it.
- Read our Deep House Introspective about Moomin ‘The Story About You’
- Keep a look out for our in-depth feature with Moomin.
A Minor Thought is out now on Smallville Records, order a copy from their store.
2. A Minor Thought.
3. Loop No. 1
4. Morning Groove
5. Woman To Woman
9. Time To Reflect.
10. You Neva Know