MARC ROMBOY with ANDREW ALLSGOOD , MIKE GIBBS and ELIOT LAZOR at Footwork (425 Adelaide West), Saturday (March 25). $10 advance. www.speedball.in. Rating: NNNNN
Marc Romboy is one of the rising talents in that futuristic-retro take on house and electro that's been increasingly infiltrating dance clubs the past few years.
The Dusseldorf-raised producer/DJ also runs Systematic Recordings, on which he's about to release his debut LP, Gemini, which sees him collaborating with house legends Robert Owens and Blake Baxter along with International DeeJay Gigolos star Tommie Sunshine.
It carries on the classic but modern style he's established with his singles. Romboy does say, though, that there are a few departures from the formula.
"I really hope the fans will be surprised; otherwise, it's boring," he laughs. "Honestly, it was imperative to me that the album not be a compilation of my recent single releases, and I think there are unexpected moments on it. The only single I had to include was my Blake Baxter collaboration, Freakin', because a lot of people asked for this track, especially the girls."
While he freely acknowledges a debt to 90s dance pioneers, he disagrees that his sounds are any more retro than other styles of dance music, a charge sometimes levelled at those making electro-house by those who prefer more consciously futuristic dance music.
"It's up to the point of view, I think. The base of electronic dance music is the drumming, and most of the drum machines used were made in the 70s and 80s. A lot of people have recently worked with Roland drum machines, so the samples of these devices sound modern to our ears.
"The drum sounds I've used on the album are from Linn and Oberheim machines. On the one hand, their drums sound old-school, since we remember them from the early Italo disco times; on the other hand, they feel fresh because we haven't heard these samples for a long time."
Neither is his use of 80s-era vocalists like Baxter and Owens a contrived attempt to reference those early days of dance music. Both are still active today, and many younger partiers likely don't even know their histories.
However, their touch does serve as a warm, soulful counterpart to the cold, dark German side of Romboy's sound, a tension that evokes the days before those two influences divided into distinct camps.
"I love to work with vocalists because their voices can give my tracks a soul that a computer or synthesizer can't simulate. That's exciting and important for my work. Take a voice like Robert Owens's -- it's a gift to collaborate with him. His singing is incredible, very warm and affecting. And the mixture of artificial electronic sounds combined with human voices is something that appeals to me."