On their new EP, Jonas Reinhardt makes a slight stylistic change that amounts to a big difference in their music. The group jumps off from the cerebral, krautrock-inspired excursions of last year’s Music for the Tactile Dome LP, and dives headfirst into four space-disco tracks, plus one remix, with mixed results.
The core experimentation of previous releases is intact, but instead of venturing into the ether, the group aims to get the feet moving on this release. It makes sense, since Foam Fangs is being released by Not Not Fun’s dance-oriented sister label, 100% Silk. The problem is that along with two highlights there are a pair that sound like retreads.
Set opener “Foam Fangs” is the key track. Band mastermind Jesse Reiner’s synth work is the star of the show, with a sturdy disco rhythm in the background. The spacey opening gives way to the main event, and over its six-minute running time, the listener won’t mind the absence of vocals. There is a moment, about two minutes into the song, when the keyboards veer into the kosmische territory this group knows so well, and when the drums return in full force, the listener is treated to a synthesis of dance music and abstract electronics that hits the spot. The other highlight is the closer, “Hot Black Mastic.” It starts off at a fast pace and never lets up. This is another example of how Jonas Reinhardt makes a few minor changes to their sound, yet still produce compelling music. If these two tracks are any indication of a future direction for the band, then they’ve got a promising future making dance music.
The same cannot be said for the two middle songs, “Soak” and “Auto Grift.” While they are interesting pieces, they possess too similar-sounding characteristics to be distinguished from the stronger songs. “Soak” starts off with an almost identical keyboard riff as the title track, and it does not build to anything as impressive as the glorious highs of the opener. “Auto Grift” contains more promise than its predecessor, but ultimately it suffers the same fate. While these two songs possess similar elements as the stronger tracks, ultimately they fall prey to diminishing returns upon successive listens. The EP is finished off by a superfluous remix of the title track from Beat Broker. The track is catchy at first, but lacks any substance past its glitzy style.
Whether or not Jonas Reinhardt return to more abstract styles or stick with dance-oriented tunes remains to be seen, but based on the stronger songs on Foam Fangs, they can spend the next few years leaning one way or the other. This is a promising work, but the weaker songs keep it from being a great release.