Fort Romeau – Beings Of Light
Berlin’s Michael Greeene, aka Fort Romeau, has always occupied a distinctive space in the field of melodic techno and tech-house. His sound pulls from the very origins of house itself, finding itself enamoured with the sounds of late 80’s Chicago and reimagining these for the contemporary dancefloor. It’s given his music a particular air of veracity, suggesting him to be an artist who understands the history of where his music comes from and looks to honour this in whatever he creates. Perhaps now more than ever, this is essential for genres like house which arose from spaces of black queer origin. Greene has never claimed this history as his own, but has never hidden its influence over his sound either. On Beings Of Light, his latest LP and first since 2015, he is more informed by this history than ever before. In creating the record, he apparently pondered the following: “Does the music move you? Is it honest?” This takes him toward a back-to-basics approach, and what he crafts is a sort of homage to the pioneers of house and club culture and the energy that they conjured.
The music takes the shape of minimal yet textured techno, and classic four on the floor house with influences from disco and 90’s ballroom. Scattered between these are moments of blissed out ambience, glowing and hazy washes of sound that explore the ethereal qualities of Greene’s ‘beings of light.’ The Truth is a skittish house track that juxtaposes a traditional bassline with an off-kilter string riff and a vocal sample placed just off the beat. The result is both familiar and strange, an otherworldly manifestation of classic house tropes. Power Of Grace pulls a similar trick with techno elements, as alien squabbles and a robotised vocal sample speaks over simmering and grooving micro-house beats. Previously released single Spotlights remains a standout, with its Harlem inspired attitude and slick, stylish ballroom influence. Throughout, Greene seems fixated on the space between reality and whatever lies beyond. This oscillation between life and death that can be felt in the disembodied, dispersed sounds and textures that bubble beneath his four on the floors, rising from the beyond like quick apparitions before dissipating into the ether again. On the ambient tracks (In The)Rain and Porta Coeli, he attempts to make this ether tangible. These ambient breaks offer peaks into the netherworld that feels a hair’s breadth away on the more propulsive tracks on Beings Of Light, but they also dilute the enigma. These pieces risk pushing the record into overwrought territory, and their inclusion feels somewhat extraneous to the otherwise considered world building that Greene pulls off on tracks like The Truth.
Beings Of Light is a worthy return to the LP format for Fort Romeau, and a reintroduction to what he is capable of when given the space and scope to work with. But while Insides established itself succinctly, Beings Of Light sometimes over explains its intentions. Still, the highs on the record are stunning entries into Greene’s cannon and stand as some of the most distinctive sounding house music of his career thus far.
Listen to The Truth from Beings Of Light below.
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