There isn’t much about Ellen Allien I know except she is a DJ/Producer from Berlin and Germans are the pioneers of electronic music in all shapes and forms. So when Ellen Allien’s newest album Dust leaks on the Web and promises to be her biggest release yet, one can’t help feeling giddy.
Upon first listen, I immediately dismissed the album, finding it quite disappointing. I had presumptuously pinned Ellen Allien alongside the bigwigs of European electronic music – the Kraftwerks, the Justices, the Neu!’s and the Daft Punks of today and yesteryear, and assumed Ellen Allien’s Dust would be comparable and would presumably become a classic. The album was certainly not in this vein, but I knew my first uninhibited impressions would only come about well after a few more tries.
Several listens later, I concluded the album, while in the vein of electronic music, mirrors more closely that of ambient and Euro-pop artists, as opposed to the elite of the genre.
“Sun The Rain” is comparable to French synth-pop band and Scarlett Johansson-worshipers The Teenagers. Allien mimics the reverberated sing-talk vocals that were prevalent on Reality Check. “Ever” is the beat that got away from DFA Records. This (almost) all instrumental track imitates early disco sounds that are staples of groups such as LCD Soundsystem and The Juan Maclean. While impressive, there is nothing original or breathtaking about it.
The album follows up with “Schlumi”, a track that starts off like an ambient version of “808s and Heartbreak” but takes unexpected turns into house music – a seldom visited side of Ellen Allien. As uncomfortable as it sounds, Allien perfects this fusion and should perhaps consider having an album alongside “Schlumi”.
Dust has great potential to be made into a remix album and become a sample on the next Top 40 hit. However, the album as an original piece of work fails to connect the listener in almost any way.