When picturing the German techno scene, one likely imagines the concrete monoliths of its capital city Berlin rather than the vineyards and valleys of the enchanting city of Stuttgart in the southwest. But small cities lack the oversaturation and noise of the metropolis, allowing them to develop their own inspired and distinctive subcultural visions. Stuttgart’s David Löhlein exemplifies this potential, manifesting a singular style of sight and sound through his Vision Ektase project and residency at Lehmann Club. Now, Löhlein’s warm-blooded techno is slinking, slithering and seducing its way through BNR, with the upcoming Hotel Pool EP release.
There’s no hesitation before plunging into the EP’s titular track, with its rushing fingered basslines and rolling polyrhythms. Löhlein cites solo travels in Columbia as the source of his Latin influences, and one hears them throughout “Hotel Pool” in vocal and percussive samples. Elements more commonly found in Latin and tribal house feel uncommonly fresh once Löhlein recontextualizes them within a 144 bpm techno foundation. The words “groovy” and “sexy” are usually reserved for the stuff of Buddha Bar compilations, but “Hotel Pool” is exhilarating because it serves both of the former and none of the latter.
A stream of hedonism flows beneath all of the four-tracker, but if the opener is erotic, A2 “La Piscina” is psychedelic. The bass flutters like a mescaline come-up, as infinite loops of chattering voices and deep bamboo pipe notes mesmerize. Again, Löhlein takes certain genre tropes - in this case from psytrance - and transposes them through his own stylistic signature with thrilling results. Ask Löhlein if he likes psytrance and the answer might be “Yes, when it’s techno.”
Leading the flip, “Cuando Vengas” heats up around a dark and sticky loop of ambiguous, organic origin. Here Löhlein’s masterful sample and drum programming is clearly on display, with vocal chops and subtle rhythmic variations leading the dancefloor to shivering bliss. The EP closes with “I Just Want,” a sparse, cold, and bitcrushed stalker of a track that seems to answer Baudrillard’s famed question “What are you doing after the orgy?” That the Hotel Pool EP’s wild romp ends in the Berlin oeuvre perhaps proves the city’s primacy in the German techno scene, but after a few listens one begins to wonder what rare pleasures they’ve been missing in David Löhlein’s Stuttgart.
1. Hotel Pool 2. La Piscina 3. Cuando Vengas 4. I Just Want
July 7, 2023