Tensnake, Glow

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 03.11.14 in Reviews



Marco Niemerski’s breakthrough as Tensnake, 2010′s mostly instrumental track “Coma Cat,” demonstrated funky-yet-urbane production skills that recalled the dub-inspired ’80s club grooves of legendary Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan — skills that now suggest that if he applied them to actual songs, Tensnake could be the next house act to follow in Disclosure’s crossover footsteps.

Bringing a synergy of songwriting substance and sonice razzle-dazzle

Glow attempts this and more. Its first single, “58 BPM” is literally set at 58 beats per minute, slower than even half the tempo of the average house track: Mostly sung by Australian newcomer Fiona, it’s a slow-grinding feminine answer to the alternative R&B come-ons of Miguel and the Weeknd. “Selfish” may boast house’s heavy bottom, but it otherwise recalls ’80s R&B, right down to a pleading vocal from Jeremy Glenn, skittering rhythm guitar and pinging electronic drum fills. The jacked-up drum programming of “Feel of Love” — a collaboration with Jacques Lu Cont, aka star producer Stuart Price — gestures to prime-era Prince, with the sassy synths and lascivious vocals to boot, the latter courtesy of electro-soul man Jamie Lidell.

Despite slight stylistic deviations, many of the peaks come courtesy of Tensnake’s facility with disco-skewed house. The current single, “Love Sublime,” thumps on an Italo bassline that’s bolstered by the Daft Punk-revived Chic icon Nile Rodgers, who scratches his guitar with characteristic fabulousness. The album’s clubbiest cut in sound, structure and duration, “No Relief,” affirms Niemerski can do without a full song and still jam; vocal shards twist and turn over bass and beats that don’t require much else. At 15 tracks and nearly 55 minutes, Glow lacks the tightness of Disclosure’s landmark, but at its best brings a similar synergy of songwriting substance and sonic razzle-dazzle.