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  Ellen Allien - Thrills - Bpitch Control
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5
by Russ Marshalek

On her last full-length LP, Berlinette, Ellen Allien executed a near-perfect melding of the mechanical tech sounds in her head with the pop compositional stylings in her heart, and created an album of vocal-heavy, chopped and processed mastery. With her new release, Thrills, on her self-run Bpitch Control label, Ellen has honed the craft she has made her own. Taking the song-based notion of track creation and applying it to more dancefloor-aimed techno pieces, the true nature of Ellen's music is revealed: she maximizes to minimize.

The simplicity in the dark mood that permeates Thrills is in the way the elements of each track cohere together, to underplay the massive detail that can be uncovered from peeling each track back, layer by layer. The album's opener, "Come," beckons like a hand, leading the listener slowly and darkly into the hall of mirrors that is the album's second track, "The Brain is Lost." "The Brain is Lost" immediately rips open with a harder, techier edge than anything we've heard from Ellen yet, and a bassline sounding like the bastard child of Hive and Mara. Yeah, a jungle-cum-prog, razor-sharp low-end. Ellen hasn't just been keeping her ear on what clickity-clack has been going down in Berlin, and Thrills showcases not just her abilities, but her massive musical knowledge. The tensely coiled but immensely jeep-rocking ghetto-tech string samples (sounding like they were ripped straight from The Chronic) on "Washing Machine is Speaking" play a massive contrast to the Eno-meets-Mira Calix subtle prettiness of in the keyboard melodies on "Naked Rain." "Your Body Is My Body" folds and unfolds, flowers open and then closes around the skittering beat anchored by synthetic walls of ambiance.

The obvious track for rockin' the club here is "Down," a gigantic breakbeat anthem on par with Allien's other massive breaker, "Trashscapes," that uses her own glitched-up skewered vocals and breathing as parts of the drum pattern. For something even more in her own realm, "She Is With Me" has Ellen creating the single most frightening, yet simultaneously beautiful piece she's yet done. Swirling mood-sounds are pushed and bitten and fought off by a heavy-handed kick that continues to grow ever closer with each moment the track progresses. Lest it sound like she's forgotten where she's come from, Ellen nods to her own musical past as a "stadt kind" with "Magma," a raging piece of hard-ass techno stomping that finds her insisting, fist raised, "You... make... me... go magma." No kidding. If Thrills is to be believed, it seems Ellen's true joy comes in exploding.

At Amazon.com

Thrills from Amazon.com Thrills
by Ellen Allien

Tracks:

  1. Come
  2. Brain Is Lost
  3. Your Body Is My Body
  4. Naked Rain
  5. Washing Machine Is Speaking
  6. Down
  7. Ghost Train
  8. Cloudy City
  9. She Is With Me
  10. Magma
  11. Down [*][Multimedia Track]

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