REVIEW Dj Tennis ‘Certain Angles’ [!K7]

On their July 14 release, the Romano-Greenall reunion succeeded in contributing a stirring masterpiece to the first’s DJ Kicks mix series for !K7. As Manfredi, more commonly known as Dj Tennis, began to wrap up the more upbeat confrere of his ‘slow-burning’ side A, he teams up with Fin Greenall, the alchemy behind the enigmatic ‘Fink’ moniker and one third of the well-travelled Fink band. But as the original mix of ‘Certain Angles’ can corral that precise moment when the dancefloor is passed getting cuffed and jabbed by pouncing bass or just begins to recover from loose hips post groove, it is not quite fit for primetime, much less as the hotshot of Saturday night parties. Come few months later, Dj Tennis, a party scene veteran from his days as a promoter and having worked with and developed club magnates throughout his career, attacks from left field, or maybe just from a ‘certain angle’ with a five track EP that provides the soundtrack for any kind of dance party, whether you are a hair-slinging technohead, a nostalgic electropop romantic or a classical music elitist.

First on stage is DJ Tennis’ own ‘Club Mix’ rework. The first rework of the five-track EP packs a punch with a technoesque onstart. By rushing in with dark, heavy bass intro, this remix gives Tennis’ lighter-hearted firstborn the cold shoulder, and asserts its command of the dancefloor. On its nose however, an ethereal murmuring, along with the original’s melodic piano procession itch to unravel its tenderness and at almost two minutes, finally allow Fink to divest. Scratched by a balanced, a tad abrasive percussion, the club mix amasses texture and rouses its pores to let Fink seep deep. The showdown is not euphonious at all times, even bellicose in some angles, but the endproduct is edgy, fiery, and can sure rev up partygoers’ engines and set some feet loose while letting Fink engulf all space with unrelenting reverberation.

Dj Tennis lends his masterpiece to his Life And Death label talents, The/Das. The German duo is no stranger to the balancing of vocals and electronic music, Fabian Fenk himself plays role of lead singer and together with Philip Koller, engages in lyricism and songwriting. In their effort to add some ‘house tenderness’ to their techno repertoire (as revealed in their latest interview with Torture the Artist), Fenk & Koller draw on their DJing alter egos to focus on (re)producing a club friendly, movement-inducing anthem and ‘create an atmosphere of letting go and dancing.’ In their re-interpretation of Certain Angles, The/Das showcases their expertise in breaking ground through an ingenious play with sound and space, texture and shape, which ironically is in all essence, the sum and substance of the very lyrics they are working with. The lengthiest of all 5, The/Das remix starts out sharp. From the getgo, rich bass and salient synths, blunt pulsations propel the track forward, with a faint melody at the backdrop before diving into the vocals and submitting into Fink’s hypnosis in under two minutes, faster than the original.

Opus 3000’s cinematic approach designs an elegant landscape that gives a euphoric feel to Fink’s bracing croon. The delicate discourse of soft piano strokes rendered by pianist Gloria Campaner and pulse soothing cello interplay woven by the gracious hands of Alessandro Branca, with Francesco Leali’s orchestration, caracole throughout the 4:44 minute rendition and harmoniously complement the song’s rhythm and lyrics. Stripped of bass and percussion, the power of Fink’s spellbinding serenade emerges as an unfettered canary fluttering in a vast space where movement is propelled simply by melodic cadence.

As the EP comes close to its end it is Mentrix’s who delivers another renegade bold and apathetic to the original as Lee Jones’, despite its insistent allegiance to the line ‘on our way home’ does not drive back home to its previous state. Mentrix extends the multiple functions and far-reaching capacities of a drum set, against an overbearing melodic lamentation, to push the boundaries of electronic music and listeners’ tolerance with it. Heavy, authoritative bass, abrupt shocks of snare, random dribbles, and humid recoils make this experimental approach both discomforting and pleasantly enjoyable at the same time.

Watergate resident Lee Jones concludes the EP, lets sound speak for itself and ‘mutes’ Fink’s vocal with the jumpiest seed of the brood. Groovy and melodic from its onstart, percussive-laden and subtly bassed, Jones takes the original far enough from its initial shape it may not be able to distinguish kinship. Contextomy at its finest, the only thread that hangs this version and its predecessor are indistinct snips cut from echoes of Fink’s croon, minimized and roboticized to create unique electronic sound scapes that can set dancefloors ablaze.

By inviting a polychromastic handful (literally, one hand) of artists, one of which is himself, Dj Tennis lends himself as base, and drags Fink along with him, to five recontextualizations of his summer hit. Beethoven’s ‘black key,’ B minor gives soul to ‘Certain Angles’ and through the rehandling by The/Das, Opus3000, Lee Jones. Mentrix and post-summer Manfredi Romano, proves the famous/infamous German artist, music theorist slash societal dissident, Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart’s attribution of the key as a quiet acceptance of fate with very gentle complaint. This harmonious, melodic marrow at the crux of the Dj Tennis/Fink collaboration dwells in all five approaches, though in varying degrees and finds that its vulnerability makes it versatile all the same.

Dj Tennis’ ‘Certain Angels’ was released October 26th, 2017 on !K7. (Marie)