Thursday, December 5, 2019

Maas production

Timo Maas
Village Voice, 2001
by Simon Reynolds

If you’ve entered a Manhattan dance store recently, you’ll have noticed swaths of wall space swallowed up by something called “progressive.” Trance without cheese, house purged of disco, techno stripped of black feel, progressive is defined almost by its in-between-ness. The genre’s tantric ideal is the long set sustained at the brink of climax. DJs like John Digweed deliberately select characterless tracks rather than orgasmic anthems, because they work better as mixscape components. Progressive therefore tends to be a rather level, peakless experience—mild and middling.

It’s certainly the last genre I thought would generate anything exciting, until a chubby-cheeked German called Timo Maas came along. At his least, he’s Sasha with balls; at his best, he makes progressive’s indistinctness seem like the promise of a new genre. “Big room,” a term DJs often drop when reviewing records, might be a good name. Site-specific rather than musically defined, it refers to colossal-sounding tracks that exploit the surround-sound systems at Twilo-style superclubs. Maas’s music is sculpted in four dimensions: huge blocks of sound-in-motion, glittering tracer-trails of filtered noise panning overhead. Sound becomes spectacular. Size counts, not just in quadraphonic dimensions but along the frequency spectrum: A sudden kick-drum will open up a hidden plateau of sub-bass below what you believed was the nether threshold.

With his Twilo residency shifted to Saturdays (warming up for Junior Vasquez), Maas now has twice as much time on the decks. Unfortunately, a six-hour set means he can slow-build, Digweed-style. After much gritless throb and sub-euphoric pummel, Maas finally reached full throttle around 4 a.m. on February 10, sending the crowd apeshit with his re-remix of “Dooms Night,” his scene-crossing smash of 2000. 

Still, a curious blankness lingers. Eliminating the aspects of rave that harked back to youth movements like hippie and punk, progressive achieves a kind of purity. There’s no humor or sexuality, just a vague urgency, semi-articulated through the occasional vocal sample: “It’s in your reach . . . concentrate . . . find the space inside.” Even in the hands of such a consummate pyrotechnician, the “big room” sound shows how rave’s explosive energies have been corralled by the superclub industry. Sound becomes spectacle. And that’s not progressive in any sense of the word. 

1 comment:

Erik Fassbinder said...

Hi Simon,

Firstly, thanks for sharing the article. I love songs & DJs. John Digweed my most favorite DJs parson. I saw 7 more singers including John Digweed on Friday in the Netherlands directly. They sang on stage. Real it's a great experience. I have read this article. Here have explaining important tips for your next recording. I am glad to read this content...!

Thank You!