Welcome to Paul Kalkbrenner’s ‘7’. Featuring 12 tracks, the German producer showcases his unique and influential brand of minimal techno, while still focusing on the rhythmic, melodic elements often found in deep house. Released just a few days ago, we present a song-by-song analysis of Paul Kalkbrenner’s wonderful, mysterious ‘7’.
Battery Park: The albums opening track is melodic and emotive, but drops into a heavier, more club oriented beat. The sound is unmistakably Kalkbrenner, with diluted vocals and pulsating synths, and serves as a great way to kick off the album. 3/5
Cylence 412: Paul continues to take things in the deep direction, as this track features plucked strings, a warm bass and airy synths. At times, making (at least this) listener feel as though he was in a heavily wooded Amazonian jungle. 4/5
Cloud Rider: The first single released off of ‘7’, this track was made for supersize stadiums and hands-in-the-air moments. The beautiful vocals are incredibly uplifting, and together with Paul’s music combine to create an emotional track with the power to make people move. 5/5
Shuffleface: Raw, simple, energetic and minimal. Those are the words used to best describe the 4th track. Paul Kalkbrenner is known as a master of his own brand of the minimal genre, and this track right here proves why. He can take a small amount of sounds, and make them huge. That’s what he did here on ‘Shuffleface’, and there is no doubt in my mind this track will be gracing club sound systems all over the globe in the no time. 4/5
Tone & Timber: With a beginning that sounds more like Dusky than Paul Kalkbrenner, this is one of the softer cuts on the album. Relying heavily on some deep house sounding chords, the album’s 5th track is okay, but not anything to write home about. The song does have its moments but ultimately fails to stand out on an album filled with so many other strong tracks. 2.5/5
Channel Isle: This track reminds me of older Paul Kalkbrenner, like something off of his Berlin Calling album. Moody and dark, with airy vocals on top of a shuffling backdrop of percussion. Like ‘Tone & Timber’, ‘Channel Isle’ leaves the listener wanting more, and ultimately seems to never find solid footing. 2.5/5
Feed Your Head: The 3rd single off of ‘7’, ‘Feed Your Head’ could also be known as the Paul Kalkbrenner remix of ‘White Rabbit’, by legendary band Jefferson Airplane. Utilizing famous and popular Alice in Wonderland vocals from the track, Paul is able to successfully create a finished product that is entirely his own. Tackling ‘White Rabbit’ is no small task. Often, producers attempt to remix old tracks and end up butchering them. This is far from the case here, as Paul reminds us just why he is one of the most celebrated producers on the planet. What a track. 5/5
Papercut Pilot: With emotive synths and an array of shakers, ‘Papercut Pilot’ is another track that ultimately failed to impress me. There are times when the track shines, especially around the 4:15 mark, with some high keys interacting with the main beat to create a somewhat emotional moment, but like a few others, winds up getting lost in the crowd and overshadowed by the other massive tracks surrounding it. 3/5
Mothertrucker: Driving, raw, distorted bass. That is what ‘Mothertrucker’ is all about. The 2nd single off of ‘7’, this one is far darker and heavier than any other track on the album, and could also be considered one of the best. While some might find it hard to believe a track such as this could exist on an album such as ‘7’, if you are familiar with Paul’s work, then you should not be surprised. Expect Mr. Kalkbrenner to save this track as a secret weapon for his live shows, pulling it out at the exact right time to successfully bring the crowd to a deeper, darker place. 5/5
A Million Days: This track reminds me of the first day of spring, or a baby bird learning to fly on a warm and sunny day. Another cut from the album that adopts a very upbeat house vibe, with chords and a vocal that together sound like something out of the UK deep house scene. ‘A Million Days’ is, in my opinion, a commercialized version of Paul Kalkbrenner, easier to digest than some of his other, more personalized and unique tracks. Not bad, but not great. 3/5
Align the Engine: Another gem, ‘Align the Engine’ is a bass heavy track that was made for dark nightclubs. Rolling along like a train on the tracks, this is just one of those classic Paul Kalkbrenner tracks that sound distinctly like him, with minimalistic synths and that warm and fuzzy bass sound tying everything together. 5/5
Bright Roller: The closing track of the album is, as its name implies, quite bright. Reminiscent of a spring morning, fluttering synths linger over a punchy kick drum + snare combination. The 12th and final song off of ‘7’ ends with the synths and drums slowly coming to a close, symbolically bringing the album to an end. 3.5/5
Total: 45.5/60 = 3.8/5 average
While this may seem like a low score, it is actually quite high! We try to be objective here, and giving 5/5 on every track is not reasonable. Paul’s new album is really top notch, and will proudly serve as another notch in the distinguished belt of this superstar producer.