Dead Man’s Hand: Poker Flat deals an ace

Words by: Cila Warncke
Posted: 22/2/08 11:36

With fine label compilations rolling out of Germany like BMWs off the assembly line reviewing them is like trying to compare a BMW sedan to one of its zippy roadsters: there is often little to choose between. The quality is consistent; it just depends on what kind of ride you're looking for.

At first spin Poker Flat Volume 6: Dead Man's Hand (bonus points, incidentally, for the Wild West referencing title and witty cover art) is the lumbering family wagon of its genre.

The first CD threatens pedestrianism with over-long, background music for hip soccer moms like Simon Flower's The Whisper Had It and Relapse by Jeff Samuel. Don't think label boss Steve Bug who compiles the unmixed first side doesn't have an ace up his sleeve - the bubbling A World Without. It instantly lifts the CD and, though it's not a mix, the rest behaves according to accepted dancefloor principles, building in energy and interest.

Dan Berkson & James What deliver an exclusive cut, Indigo, which very nearly erases the memory of the first couple of dull tracks. An impressive, expansive, clever-but-not-too-clever record it restores faith and gets your feet moving in one neat swoop. Also, the editing gets better as it goes along with Maik Loewen's Bright Night clocking in at a chirpy, manageable five minutes before Martin Landsky and Sebo K's joint handiwork Let Me Dance delivers a sexy, sweet rush of pleasure.

Ultimately, CD one is for DJs and collectors - at home listeners should skip straight to the Clé mixed CD two. He's one half of the Martini Bros so don't be surprised to see a healthy array of their tracks here. They all stand on their own merits though, so I won't be sniffy about it. In particular, the mix from From Buleaux to Towards Beleaux is a light-hearted, synth poppy moment which puts paid to any ghosts of techno worthiness. Clé and Steve Bug exercise their prerogative as selectors and give themselves what is arguably the best track on the mix: the aptly titled Hidden Pleasures with has the beauty, lightness and tensile strength of polished titanium. The other contender for best track is Organic, by the reliably superb Guido Schneider and brother-in-synths Florian Schirmacher. It is just lovely: melodic, textured, fluttery, irresistible. Martin Landsky redeems himself on side two after a flat Man High (on CD one) with the lovely, luscious Cold Eyes which evokes welcome memories of the interstellar 1000 Miles. Also hitting the right note is Martini Bros' Karawane, a pumping electro-infused cut and Bug's casually excellent Momwack.

Though a bit of a grower Dead Man's Hand shows that for slick, easy-to-manoeuvre techno Poker Flat still holds the high cards. 

Like this? Try: Martini Bros - Play (Poker Flat) 


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