It wasn’t so noticeable at first. We had a good decade of his classics still circulating around our iPods, car stereos, record boxes and club sound systems. But gradually a feeling of lacking and unfulfillment began to descend on the dance music world. Where on earth did Timo Maas go?
Thankfully it was nothing more than a relatively brief hiatus: a sabbatical, the likes of which are often essential to an artist’s creative reinvention and reinvigoration. Sometimes you have to move backwards to move forwards, and it was with this cyclical ethos in mind that the German legend returned in 2008 with the subliminal techno trip of Subtellite – a record on the world’s foremost techno imprint, Cocoon, which boldly stated that he was casting aside the big league commercial identity that he had so successfully – and more importantly credibly – lived under for the best part of the Noughties. The Maasmeister was back with his first club record in 6 years, and it was pretty damn clear that he meant business.
The business in question was more or less that of getting back to his underground roots, but as always combined with his usual forward-thinking, innovative approach. Finding a musical soulmate in Italian production wiz Santos has been one of his key developments in returning to the fore, and the synergy that the duo exude in their joint Mutant Clan productions and the running of their acclaimed Rockets & Ponies label cannot be understated. “It’s been very important for me” underlines Timo. “After searching for a long while for somebody who understands my musical vision and also has the ability to change the ideas in tracks and songs...to meet him was and is the best. I never had a better possibility to express my ideas than right now with him.” Alongside their own twisted, boundary-less techno vibes, the label plays host to their favourite rising talents – from Adam Port and Tiefschwarz co-producer Santé’s huge summer anthem Own (chosen by Radio 1 as one of their Ibiza Weekend highlights) to the ever-impressive output of Alex Dolby, they’ve spent over a year carefully selecting the finest producers to work alongside them. It’s electronic music without rules and convention – or if you ask Timo for a description: “be careful...it's quiet twisted stuff"
But despite his return to underground movements, he’s still keeping the door open to more mainstream endeavours. Quality not quantity is the principle, and to that effect carefully chosen remixes are forthcoming from his studio for the legendary William Orbit, soul sensations Noisettes and Placebo. But it’s all on his own terms: these are no mere money-grabbing, let’s-get-a-cool-name-on-board exercises - more projects Timo feels passionate about and inspired by, and which will receive the honour of being transformed into one of his uniquely-styled journeys. And more tantalisingly still, he’s got a new artist album planned for 2011 – his third so far.
Whether it’s an overground or underground affair – or somewhere in between – not even he can say just yet. Right now, it’s all about laying down the ideas, and letting it run its course organically. “The main target is to write a studio album. One that stands out, that is unique in its sound and is hopefully also timeless. We'll see. The first ideas sound very promising already.” Listening back to Timo’s earliest breakthrough tracks, they still sound futuristic and unique, and you can bet your bottom Euro that this one will be no different. But if you think someone of his stature and varied experience has done it all, you can thing again. “I'm only 41 - there's loads more music to write and play” he enthuses. “We got some good long term plans...and we're continuously working on it!” Amen to that.