Over the years, Frankfurt-based artist Roman Flügel has released as many different production aliases as he has had hairstyle changes – from anthemic techno productions alongside production partner Jörn Wuttke as Alter Ego (the slick, main-room techno look: short, back and sides), to subtle, understated ambience as Sensorama (unkept and shoulder-length à la Danny Wolfers), and the wider deconstruction of genre and electronic form for Lawrence’s Dial Records under his own name (the experiment with a bowl cut circa 2004). We take a look at five essential works from a producer that defies pigeonholing, yet continually pushes the boundaries of forward-thinking club music and its environs. As well as hairstyles.
Words by Will Martin, photos by Nadine Fraczkowski
1. Roman vs. M/S/O – Make You Move (Ongaku Music, 1996)
A mid 90s post acid techno banger that saw Roman drop the Flügel and go head to head with fellow Frankfurt rave legend Heiko Schäfer. Still at home on the Panorama Bar dancefloor today: nearly 20 years after its original release on Ata’s (of Offenbach club Robert Johnson fame) Ongaku Music. Make Your Move marked an early example of Flügel’s power for creating stripped down, Detroit-inspired dancefloor destroyers. Syncopated 4/4 madness at its finest, Ron Morelli eat your heart out.
2. Acid Jesus – Jesus (Klang Elektronik, 1993)
Off-kilter dissonance for a post Fingers Inc. dystopian wasteland. Sitting somewhere in between Jeff Mills’ chugging kicks, Drexiya’s twisted melodies and Polygon Window’s analog weirdness, Acid Jesus was one of many early Flügel projects initiated alongside future Alter Ego band mate Jörn Wuttke. Jesus closed their eponymous LP with a refined grace, as eerie as it is painstakingly beautiful.
3. Roman Flügel – Geht’s Noch? (Cocoon, 2004)
Where Alter Ego’s Rocker saw Flugel rise to the controls as one half of a stadium techno superpower, it was with his own Geht’s Noch? (originally released on Sven Vath’s Cocoon imprint) that he solidified his strength amongst the dance music elite as an anthem-creator in his own right. While Steve Angello’s subsequent prog-leaning remix may have propelled the track into the mainstream (and towards the tanktop wearing Ibizan masses), it was the original’s screaming simplicity that saw it at its most powerful.
4. Sensorama – Echtzeit (Landomat 2000, 1995)
“Perfect Porn Music”: how one YouTube user took to describing Echtzeit, a key track off Welcome Insel, Flugel’s 1995 exploration of downtempo and ambience. Though the description isn’t that far off point: sultry, downtempo grooves sit alongside distant synth lines built to seduce. Flügel at his most sensual: a masterclass in the art of ambient sexual enticement.
5. Roman Flügel – How To Spread Lies (Dial, 2011)
Remember that moment when your eyes crossed your ex lover on the dancefloor, you came up… and that piano line! Oh, that piano line! Well, How To Spread Lies was playing. The perfect sunrise, sunset – as well as the ultimate album opener for a record like Fatty Folders, a 60-minute excursion into groove-driven melancholic dancefloor bliss.