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Berlin producer Phonique is putting house back on the dance agenda.
Mark Kavanagh, 09 May 2007
Electro house is a much-maligned style, and with good reason; most of the releases under this banner are nothing more than cynical attempts to cash in on the popularity of grinding basslines and electronic rhythms.
However, there are a few exceptions and the most notable one is Phonique, aka Michael Vater. The Berlin producer has been making and releasing electronic house music since the start of this decade and, although he is still best known in the mainstream for Tiefschwarz’s mix of his ‘Red Dress’ track, he has put out an impressive body of work and has moved on from his electro house roots.
2004’s Identification album showed that he wasn’t just interested in the dance floor and contained ‘For The Time Being’, an overlooked pop classic featuring Kings Of Convenience singer Erlend Oye on vocals. Phonique’s second album for Dessous, Good Idea, expands on the producer’s song-based approach to dance floor composition.
While Oye’s innocent vocals feature again – on the sweet hooks of ‘Casualties’ – Phonique has also roped in Berlin singer/producer Richard Davis, who guests on the warm, chord-led ‘Always Wanted’. Then there’s Ruben, whom Phonique discovered on a compilation of electronic pop from a tiny German label, and whose vocodered contribution lends a mournful feeling to the wistful ‘Rio Nights’. So is Phonique really just a pop producer trapped in a house DJ’s body?
“Ha ha, you could be right,” he laughs down the line from Berlin. “I was trying to think of a name for these tracks, and because pop is such a dirty word, I called it ‘underground pop’. It’s interesting to see how people react to it. I played the Richard Davis track to Gui Boratto (the Brazilian producer) and he said that it was like some of the Pet Shop Boys’ work. I’m not a fan of theirs, but I respect them, so I’ll take it as a compliment! The most beautiful aspect of this music is that it is very warm and although I wouldn’t be able to spin it every weekend, I like to have one night a month where I can play it.”