There's a rainbow of fuzz on Thomas Fehlmann's Honigpumpe. It's an album of colors not so much blended as bled-together. Only its mechanical parts, the titanium gears and cranks performing its steely rhythms, are cleanly defined. Around it, slipstreams of flickering data provide a constant miasmic swarm. The disc's name alludes to an installation by Fehlmann's compatriot Joseph Beuys, who devised a fat-powered engine that chugged honey through plastic tubes worming its way along the expanse of an exhibition space. Though Fehlmann's breaking down pixels instead of lipids, the sticky muck generated slathers the beats without gumming up the movement.
Fehlmann lets the disc slowly seep in. "Stralensatz" is all soft and misty, laced with shimmering trails of electricity like processed guitar lines - all tone and no fingertips. The crackling tips of a muffled thump peep over the haze as garbled chimes illuminate the flux. If the album's cover seems to pay homage to the simple formalism of Krautrock sleeves, this opener shaves the allusion down to a bright arrow pointing to the genre's sylvan outskirts. After those four minutes, the album looks a lot like Zuckerzeit. But, this being the second full-length from this veritable dance-music lifer for the inescapable Kompakt, a bit of clatter and bass remains the main attraction.
Heading into "Schaum" four tracks later, Fehlmann brushes past some stray astral jazz voltage to reveal a robust, if still ghosted, throb. From there, Fehlmann largely maintains the momentum. He even polishes off his beloved schaffel for another stutter strut around the bend on "I.R.N.I.I.Z." while brittle "100 Baume" softens its crisp pulse with jelly globs, woodwind wisps and clinking chandelier treble. Given Fehlmann's long history in the Orb, it's no surprise that much of Honigpumpe feels liminal, as if it's the dazed, dream-filtered memory of techno tunes instead of the real deal. Clever though rarely flashy, Fehlmann remains committed to setting the dancefloor adrift while too many others try to pin it down.