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Bufiman - Albumsi (Dekmantel, 2020)

Dense and lively rhythms intersect with refreshing emotive tendencies on this wonderfully colourful debut LP.

Its wonderful when artists really go for it on Long Plays, in terms of track length, ambition and moving above and beyond to explore every facet of their sound. Creating multiple series with varying moods and textures is never a task that should be taken lightly, but for some it comes across very naturally, a gift harnessed by understanding every little element's place within a larger body, a gift that concerns itself with melding various characteristics together from varying genres into something that embodies a whole full spectrum of sounds. Its these kinds of records that really stand out from the rest, allowing themselves to be recycled through multiple listens, applying themselves to many contexts and environments with ease, floating along with the knowledge that their diversity through sound will always allow for compulsive enjoyment. Its a testament to the people behind the music, the ones who spent their time creating such a plethora of musical blends to get our teeth into, their boundless view of the genres they inhabit allowing for music that refreshes us and just invites us to look a bit deeper once in a while. Where every twist serves up something new, boldness introduced through the smallest variation in structure or layered feel, and when done within a long tune, it feels glorious, invigorating and exciting. The switches themselves become the glue that hold it all together, allowing for seismic shifts to occur but they always feel so natural, hanging together with a passion and a tender love that cannot be denied. For many producers, to get to this point in their career, they have spent their discography constantly exploring this side of things, developing their sound to the point where they feel comfortable doing the blends over rolling landscapes rather than just smaller scenes, but it is here where the magic really happens. The swift turn becomes the rolling epic, the small subtleties become the grand and wonderful, the mood changes become emotive slow burners that climax so beautifully.

Initially, Bufiman, aka Jan Schulte, catered more so to the emotional needs and burning desire for high quality contemporary disco tinged cuts, but his sound has blossomed enormously since his debut back in 2012. In many ways, his work has always demonstrated a serious talent for harnessing groove, a sincere and delicate sound that utilised a wide array of synth arrangements with ever changing drumming patterns to allow for his sound to constantly grow and develop through time. His debut appearances on 'Manifest 001' and '003', joined shared with producer Tim Schumacher aka DJ Normal 4, both demonstrated his wide and open sound, with 001's contributions up beat disco groove orientated affairs, whilst 003 shows a dip into deep house driven riddims, where the chordal work became more sparse and the drums took over hard. It was initially a good indication of the kind of broad approach to sound that would be continually highlighted throughout his further discography, evident on some selected releases such as the groovy as hell 'Running EP' from 2014; the slow and chuggy excellence of 'Ältere Sachen' from 2015; the fantastic 'Peace Moves' record from 2017, that really showed a new shift in direction in soundscapes; and the very out there 'Ba Hu Du (Wolf Muller's Unreleased Version)' single from 2018, that drew to a close his outputs to this time. His work under his alisas Wolf Muller has also drawn praise and attention, particularly with their 2018 LP 'Instrumentalmusik Von Der Mitte Der World', that showcases a New Age dubbed out Balearic side to Schulte's sound, and the blissed out dub tinged excursions of 2019's 'Dub Dub Dub Dub Dub - The Wmnw Remixes' further creating new bonds with music lovers. In many ways, having these two outputs running alongside each other has lead to both feeding on another, and at some point in time, they were bound to collide full on with each other. And how wonderful would that be.

And that point in time has arrived this year, in the form of his debut LP under his own name, entitled 'Albumsi'. From the off, we are greeted with the kinds of intoxicating grooves that characterised his initial releases, but with the new layering on top evoking all the endless scope of his Muller works. It contains so many moods and journeys through all kinds of genres, its a journey unlike no other, particularly from this year anyway, and we grab the opportunity to dive deeper at every twist and turn. Immersion really takes on new forms here, thats for sure. So lets take a dip!

First up comes 'Galaxy', and we get thrown right in there. The winding synth comes up from the deep, creating a pool for the song to pick from, as it builds itself up not once but twice, before swinging right into the beat. It has a kind of laid back 80s funk vibe to it, slowly moving through the motions, the kicks and toms hitting hard, the cymbals rhythmically adding so much on top. Then, the repeated 'Welcome to the Galaxy' line repeats on top, the track remaining very dubby for the most part, but it contains all these wonderful little lines of flute, the big bass note that stabs right through. Its cut up to really emphasis the core groove of the track, the spaces left between the harmonic elements allowing us to really reside within the track. The second half of the track really moves into a more full instrumental territory, the keys and sequences moving into more longer territories, and its oh so glorious. The running vocal line feels like a commentary, remaining consistent across the boards, tying it all together with a neat little thread. Next comes 'Sara Sara', and we begin once more with the soft synths beginning it all. The soft beat then swings around the core, the synths lightly and gracefully occupying the backdrop, as the drums begin to build with every move between the chords. The swell in density is expertly timed, the drums adding enormity and class to proceedings. The synths then get developed via the form of a bass line that really packs a punch, moving the track along, before the rhythm is allowed to breath easy, showcasing its depth for all to connect with. The track then swings between the full and the beat, flowing naturally between the two structures. Its epic. Next comes 'Hoolock Rock', and the 80s vibes come right back into it. The beautiful chime like chords create the structure, disappearing as quickly as they appear, as the beat comes quickly into the picture. The bass lines moving around underneath with ease, as all manner of little sounds make their name known within the sea of sound. As the chords come back in, the track completes its little initial journey, as we become totally immersed in it. Its quite a testament that an essentially dancey track has this kind of emotional pull to it, the drumming and keys doing so much to create this proper little world for us to get completely lost in. The track moves through the motions, adding new little sequences and drumming elements as we move along, reaching its peak as the key line that started off slowly moving in the background now becomes the main attraction. By this point, we are really within it, the delicate chords keeping us locked within the sea of exquisite drumming patterns, constantly moving and evolving as the track just keeps on going to new heights of excellence. 'Blow Your Head' comes next, and the flavour begins with some robotic noises ready to pounce. The mood is already very different, taking a very full on electronics sort of vibe, but the groove remains, the drumming and other swirling lines weave around the original sequence, always naturally evolving. As the drums become full, now we are talking, the feel now evolving into a kind of rave era electro-esq kind of thing, the cosmic outer galaxy feel very much on show here. Its a different side to the sound, but no less intriguing, as we become engaged with the continual addition and interplays occurring with each bar. The track keeps up this appearance throughout, moving and shifting with ease between its various elements and structures, never content to remain in one place for long, but always allowing itself to keep us and itself on our toes. As to be expected, the first chords show themselves, as the track breaks down a bit into a chorus of sorts, as the tone shifts dramatically into the last dance territory, the deep keys evoking new contexts and nights out. What a switch up.

Next comes 'Pantasi', and the groove introduces us with this one. The drumming sets itself up to allow for movements between the lines, and that is what we get, straight up hats and toms move into more jazzy territory, cymbals and percussive elements allowed to go wild. Before long, we move into the full sound, where the groove comes alive with rhythm and free flowingness, and then the acidic key line comes into play. By this point, its a nice feeling where you know that what comes next within the tracks is going to be good, a surprise always at the direction that we are taken in. The drumming and intro hint at it, but sometimes its always a bit different. The line moves between the two notes, and then the breakdown introduces us to the new melodic element, the floating and whimsical flute line. This then appears when needed most, before we then move into the wonderful chordal line that just adds so much flavour to proceedings. To begin with just the acid line and then move into this full bodied melodic masterclass is something else. As the track hits the 8 minute mark, it begins to wind down, and from here on out its a harmonic flow, with varying elements moving in and around each other constantly, creating this unreal narrative that permeates with such gloriousness and expressionism. Constantly evolving, never standing still, that might be the hall mark of this already superb record. 'News from the Treetops' is next, and another rhythmic set up comes next. The chuggy balaeric vibes are all over this one, the textures and tones all over the place, creating a rich base for things to move on with. When the pads hit, its god like, beautiful soft yet grand as fuck, its a beautiful moment. The kind of vibe that is only created by this kind of bountiful feel, the textural work underneath contrasting with these synths that just shallow you up and transport you to other places. This kind of arrangement could last a life time, it really could, as the drums take a break, demonstrating the power of the synths, before they come right back into things with a breakbeat kind of flavour, and its just as marvellous as the very first beat. Not much else needs to be said, flawless. Next up comes the middle portion of the record, that is kicked off by the shortest track by far on the record, 'Langsam Aber Slowly'. This one begins off with the Grandmaster Flash drum sample, but quickly shifts into a dense as fuck swing, little key sequences moving sharply onto of a deep and destructive kind of beat. Samples abound all over the place, and represents a short and sweet experience in relation to the rest of the record. This then moves into 'I Think I Got It Under Control Now', and the chugs continue into this one. This one is a real dub, the reverbing synths and sounds continuing to move and float around the slow burning beat, content at this point in time not over stretching and burning out. This vibe continues on with confidence and engagement, keeping us locked in hard, the groove just so able to keep this swirling feel going. This then flows directly into 'Well, Traumhaft', and here we ease into a melodic majesty that counteracts so well the dub of the previous cut. The soft keys float and move with ease, softly and gracefully evolving around the beat, that pulses through proceedings with a mind of its own. The continual development of lines and pads keep the interest going, a track that softly wraps around you, allowing complete immersion within its many gorgeous layers of rhythm and sound. Its the slow burner that soundtracks the night walk home, the early rises, the long and undulating landscapes. Music to help you reconnect with it all.

And now we arrive at the final part of the record, beginning with 'Coolness'. The soft bed of synths and sounds underpin the first obvious vocal line that has occurred within this record, the focus really drawn towards the opening monologue, a discussion with a mirror it feels, as the person discusses what is cool, what is hip? This discussion then moves into the pumped up beat that perhaps was always meant to be, the groove levels are off the walls. What begins with the dense then moves into the sparse, swinging back into things with layers of sounds pulled from all kinds of eras. The glitchy chord sequences become interlaced with little guitar lines, the bass line pounding away like its nobody's business. Its full, full as fuck even, a track for the ages. Next comes 'Apo-Calypso', and we enter into another summery, blissed out vibe, the synths doing their work on top to give over life and blessings. Softly moving between it all, but then the stab comes in, switching up the feels with absoluteness, but never fear, its just providing the structure for things to come. The track continues on with its chordal arrangements, that act very rhythmically and in time, providing structures and feels, such an emotive whirlwind that you can't help but get completely lost within. When the strong key line comes in, the lead takes new directions, as the drums up the ante, the emotional connection now fully established, as we move along for the ride with absolute ease and confidence. Its quite the journey, expertly crafted and handled with such fucking ease it makes you quite jealous that someone is able to craft something like this. Its the blend of 80s Italo/disco funk/synth pop keys and the progressive driving rhythms that give this record such an edge, its crazy. This is really embodied within this track. Finally, to finish up what can only be described as a near perfect record, comes 'Rave The Forest'. This one begins quiet and ominous, with the nature sounds moving in and around the growing synth lines that quietly move to the front of the queue. The intro quickly grows in time though, moving into the beat and the keys becoming one with each other, the tempos set high to ensure maximum engagement with the listener. The flows are on point here, a fluid exchange of sounds, the relationships between the varying elements so strong, each one feeding into each other with endless ease. Its a wonderful track to finish on, and really captures the spirit of this record. One where everything feels possible, everything seems to make sense, captured by the progressions, the wonderful sense of direction, a core ideal of endless creativity and ability.

Jesus christ, what a record. The kind of record that remains unique in its vision, and even more so with its outputs. Whatever Bufiman drinks in the morning, it clearly aids with his unreal abilities to pull off tracks that are not only the highest quality when it comes to content, mood, tone, and flow, but technically on another level in regards to creating structures and balances between melodic elements and beats. The whole record stands as one piece of work, a journey through landscapes and soundscapes that give over so many experiences, often within one song. The narrative is compelling, the music is stunning, and it all comes together in a record that will stand the test of time with its sheer brilliance. Record of the year.......just maybe.

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