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Electronic/Dance - Released August 3, 2018 | Ninja Tune

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Helena Hauff's second album is closer to the stark, gritty sound of her early singles than the more melodic, suspenseful electro-techno of her full-length debut, 2015's Discreet Desires. The tracks generally consist of just a few layers -- heavily distorted beats, pulsating acid synth lines -- but they're upfront, direct, and highly energetic, never sounding undercooked or tossed-off. Opener "Barrow Boot Boys" recalls the thundering, extra-crunchy electro of I-F, with the focus entirely on rhythm, commanding the listener's attention. "Lifestyle Guru" has a faster, bouncier beat, with unhinged acid pulsations coursing through its veins, perfectly encapsulating the energy of a sweaty warehouse rave. The album does pause for a few reflective, beatless interludes, such as "Entropy Created You and Me," which features billowing, nearly childlike melodies over digital fuzz which approximates the vibration of an idle snare drum. Similarly, "Qualm" is a brief piece filled with astral melodies and static sweeps, sounding like a movie scene offering a minor revelation before something exciting takes place. Sure enough, "No Qualms" adds a booming electro beat to the same melody, setting its starry introspection in motion. These types of stargazing melodies and tense acid rumblings worm their way into other tracks such as the swirling, quasi-goth "Panegyric" and the electro stormer "Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg," which spends the first few minutes teasing its melody before fully blooming halfway into the track. Closing number "It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was a Kid" slows down the tempo and offers a final moment of wistful nostalgia. Qualm generally shifts away from the Drexciyan melodies of Discreet Desires, but it's just as precisely focused as that album, and anyone who has enjoyed her prior recordings or Hauff's unrelenting DJ sets should enjoy this one as well. ~ Paul Simpson

Electronic/Dance - Released September 4, 2015 | Werkdiscs - Ninja Tune

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Hamburg-based DJ and producer Helena Hauff began releasing records in 2013, making stripped-down, monochromatic techno and acid house tracks in line with releases on labels like L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) and The Trilogy Tapes. Her first full-length, and third release for Actress' Werkdiscs imprint, retains the one-take grittiness of her previous releases, but it has a much wider scope, sounding much fuller and more melodic while avoiding sounding polished or sterile. The influence of vintage electro and industrial/EBM was always evident in her work, but it comes into full focus here, with spooky goth melodies and snapping, marching beats. The work of veteran Dutch electro revivalist Legowelt comes to mind almost immediately upon hearing tracks like "Spur," which frame expertly structured beats around chilling, intelligent melodies. The tracks on this album are far more concise than many of the tracks on Hauff's prior EPs, and even when they stretch past six or seven minutes, they still seem more to the point than some of her previous recordings, which occasionally felt meandering and monotonous. The album picks up the pace halfway through, echoing the exciting tempos and sci-fi-inspired melodies of classic Detroit electro artists such as Drexciya. "Tryst" builds and releases in a particularly thrilling manner. The album ends on a tense note with the suspenseful "Silver Sand and Boxes of Mould," which is minimal, but not in an endlessly looping way. Instead, it's calmly paced, with heartbeat-like thumps and soft ripples of sound over creeping synth chords. Discreet Desires is a fascinating debut album, demonstrating the right way to transition from an underground, 12"-only electronic producer to a full-scale album artist, greatly expanding upon previous ideas while avoiding sounding overblown and remaining rough and exhilarating. ~ Paul Simpson

Electronic/Dance - Released October 27, 2017 | Ninja Tune

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"The opening 'Nothing Is What I Know' is a booming, spine-tingling 808 workout, suffused in whispers, that slowly unfolds over seven and a half minutes."

Electronic/Dance - Released March 30, 2015 | Werkdiscs - Ninja Tune

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Electronic/Dance - Released August 2, 2013 | Werkdiscs - Ninja Tune

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