Throwback: Traumprinz – RA387

Traumprinz, an alias of techno producer Prince of Denmark, has been releasing shadowy, submerged and unmistakeably deep records on a sub-label of German imprint Giegling, also entitled ‘Traumprinz’, that exists solely as a medium through which to release the producer’s music. Details about him are sparse, but he has built up enough of a reputation for himself that he was drafted by Resident Advisor in late 2013 for their 387th edition of their podcast series. The mix’s track list is similarly enigmatic: 7 of the 11 songs he plays over the course of the 68 minute mix are untitled, although it is understood that the mix consists solely of his own work.

The music is truly excellent. Building slowly, the producer shows off his impressive propensity for sound design over tightly wound, shuffling 4/4 rhythms. Like most experienced DJs, his mixing style is based around building and releasing tension. The first 17 minutes consists of dark and dubby productions, drenched in delay, building toward a crescendo, before mixing in a bouncy and upbeat curveball to alter dynamic of the mix. However, the lighter touch doesn’t last; before long ominous synths are growling in the background, and he reworks the house trope of a ‘your body’ vocal loop into something altogether more sinister through pitching the words down to robotic frequencies.

This reworking of vocals is a running trait of Traumprinz’s music. He regularly uses vocals that could be seen as cheesy in a weaker producer’s hands. It is testament to the quality of his writing that when contextualised in the framework of his productions they appear to be both melancholy and malevolent. This is most evident in the centrepiece of the mix. This begins around thirty-six minutes in; sharp, menacing chords cut through to dominate the mix, and with the backing of a subaquatic kick drum and the faintest hi-hat shuffle, they begin to announce that something special is about to happen. The percussion all but fades out, and the synth line is left to talk for itself, until it is joined by the acapella of Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’. The juxtaposition of the vocal and Traumprinz’s ominous chords is remarkably off key, but the discordant effect leaves a haunting imprint on the listener’s mind.

The mix stays hazy, grungey and dark until the final two songs. These final pieces burst into a ray of light, as if Traumprinz has thrown the curtains open to show the rising sun, deep into the afterhours. The first of the two songs is a bubbly, house track. It is builit around shimmering arpeggios reaching for the skies, and contains the first unthreatening vocal of the set:  elated ‘ah’s and ‘oh’s that loop around Traumprinz’s euphoric synthwork. While the first pieces switches the tone, it is still designed within the framework of 120something bpm house music, and that is where the beauty of the denouement lies.

If the penultimate song was reaching for the skies, the final piece is positioned above the clouds, surveying all beneath it. The song, entitled ‘There Will Be XTC’, shuttles the tempo up to 170bpm for a true sense of euphoria. It’s essentially a slice of well-crafted liquid drum n bass, and by itself it could, due to its pitched up loop of the word ‘ecstasy’, seem somewhat clichéd. However, thanks to the dungeon-like precedent set by the previous hour of the mix, it instead feels like a breath of cool fresh air.

This is where the beauty of the mix lies. While it does not hesitate to go deep, nor does it hesitate to lift the listener higher than they were when they started.

John Hardy

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