Album Reviews

Voom Voom – Peng Peng

(!K7) UK release date: 24 April 2006

Voom Voom - Peng Peng Voom Voom is made up of Christian Prommer and Roland Appel, who record together under their Truby Trio and Fauna Flash guises, and Peter Kruder of Kruder & Dorfmeister fame. With such a revered trio of talents, their collaborative efforts are likely to be more closely scrutinised than other electronic acts, but any pressure thankfully seems to have passed them by.

Peng Peng brings together four EPs released by the before unnamed trio plus one new composition and it is the previously unreleased Baby that forms a storming start. Chunky electro and an energetic bassline are joined by vocodered singing that instantly recalls Discovery-era Daft Punk, but this is more than an exercise in eighties regurgitation and the track forms a contemporary slap around the face for those who have written dance off as a spent force. A strong start is always hard to follow but the disco-edged funk of the oddly-titled Roger erases any fears they are one-track ponies, the synth-strings and vocoder (yes, again) lifting it above any run-of-the-mill dance fodder.

The standard remains high through the aptly-titled Bounce, a squelching, rave-edged club cut, Logan with its slow-building, buzzing bassline and bleeps, the Scissor Sisters stylings of Best Friend and acid house classic Sao Verought which nods fairly heavily in the direction of early 808 State and Carl Craig.

Another standout, and the pinnacle of the album, is the smooth, deep house track Oggi. Another well-crafted bassline maintains the momentum as subtle chords add a shimmer to proceedings and conjure up a perfect, summery, Balearic warmth. An Arabic chant, that may be familiar to long-term fans of The Orb, then cuts through to further strengthen an already excellent track.

Peng Peng is by no means faultless, All I Need begins well with pizzicato plucked strings but suffers from that sound of a keyboard-pretending-to-be-a-guitar that growls through in a way not heard since the Utah Saints were bothering the top ten, well, if you discount the Bodyrockers that is. There is also a slight over-reliance on vocoder effects but these are just minor flaws.

Urwald is ambient in style and does very little, meandering slightly before flowing into Vampir Song, another slow track where the influences of Jean Michel Jarre and Air collide to surprisingly good effect. The vocoder is wheeled out again to compliment the spaced-out electronics but it still fails to irritate perhaps as much as it should which is testament to an album that rewards return visits. Strong, focussed and direct, the highlights really do showcase dance music at its very best.

Melding together mellow, Detroit-style techno, electro, ambient and house of many different shades, this is a fearless album of pure dance music with a rich, warm soul that contains very little evidence of the producers trying to accommodate what they think people want to hear. Not for them the compromise of Timo Maas‘ or Tiefschwarz‘s most recent offerings where largely superfluous attempts are made at writing ‘proper’ songs with a myriad of misplaced guest vocalists. Instead Voom Voom’s confidence in their strengths shines through on virtually every track and Peng Peng shines as a result.

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