2016-17 continually proves to support the return of genre revivalism. Paramore delivered a sun-drenched and frolicking LP that channeled an upbeat pop-rock turn for the typically punk group. Calvin Harris served up a 70s infused collaboration with the “greatest artists of our generation,” while Bruno Mars rode the funk wave into the early 90s, matching a classic, synthesized bounce with sexed up crooning evocative of Blackstreet.
Channeling such temporal and musical fluidity, German-born DJ, producer and remixer Tino Piontek, better known as Purple Disco Machine, released his debut album, Soulmatic on October 20, 2017. Courtesy of Sweat It Out Music, the 13 track outing is an exercise in the crosspollination of dancefloor grooves with more traditional verse-hook song structure that entirely delights for its approximately 50-minute runtime.
The caveat of music production in 2017 is its ease of access; online/downloadable tools have made the bedroom producer a common, if not profitable avenue, bookmarked by acts like Metro Boomin’ or Knxwledge who have crafted trademark styles using widely available programs. Purple Disco Machine’s (henceforth referred to as PDM) linkage to the funk and dance sonics he employs runs deeper than a set of audio plugins; his father cultivated his appreciation for the 1970s and 80s genres that guide his production. Coupled with the fact that one of his early gigs was as a resident DJ in his hometown Dresden, and the influences guiding Soulmatic become all the more charming.
In a sense, Soulmatic plays a bit like a curated DJ set. PDM spares no expense incorporating into each track beat breaks and catchy hooks that invite rhythmic writhing on the dancefloor, but his adept sequencing is the mark of a career DJ. “Play,” featuring a layered composition of vocals and gyrating percussion that conjures imagery of a fluorescently neon roller rink then wavers into the slower paced “Take It Easy” (featuring Crush Club), allowing listeners to catch their breath, refresh and gear up for the remainder of the set.
Working in tandem with PDM’s impressive track sequencing is his supreme ear for atmosphere, which he quickly establishes on the intro cut “Music in You” (featuring Lorenz Rhode). Beginning with the ambient sounds of people chattering, faint police sirens and the clamor of traffic, PDM gradually shifts the spotlight from the chaotic commotion of the city to his very intentional and feel-good productions. Utilizing the same talkbox effect on the vocals as 80s funk icon Roger Troutman (of the band Zapp), PDM does what every DJ should aspire: instill the music in the listener’s very core.
That said, musical effects aren’t PDM’s only call back to yesteryear. On “Body Funk” the German DJ flips the lyrics of “The Duckworth Chant,” a 1940s marching rhythm that has since seeped into usage by protestors and football teams alike. The pounding chant, “One, two, one, two, one, two/ THREE FOUR!” is complemented by, “I don’t know what I’ve been told/ Music makes you lose control/ Work your body to the beat/ Body work will set you free!” The constant reminder of the music within is symbolic of PDM’s listener driven focus. Each track is less about forcing an emotion upon the listener than it is about making sure the listener feels anything at all. Take “Mistress” (featuring Hannah Williams); the cut, grounded by a guitar-based backdrop, begins with Hannah exclaiming, “It’s so hard to peel my face from the pillow each morning.” All of her woes are easily relatable and then made more so as track becomes less about the feelings of despair and more about music as life’s revitalizing agent.
Ultimately, Soulmatic invites a number of revisits after the initial listen. PDM incorporates features from seemingly disparate acts like rapper Kool Keith (“Memphis Jam”) and English singer Karen Harding (“Love for Days”) such that they all contribute to his vivacious thesis on a musical life. Keith’s asynchronous rapping eventually splits into the line, “Get the people in the party” the same way CeeLo Green’s verse on “Pray for Me” divulges into call and response lines, “Everybody raise your hands/ Let me know you understand,” that engage the listener in the staple uplifting narrative Soulmatic professes. Somehow for PDM, resting on decades of musical motifs assists Soulmatic in catering to a humanistic approach to music that supersedes its temporal origins.
Soulmatic is available for purchase and streaming today.