CD Review of Teufelswerk by Hell
Hell: Teufelswerk
Recommended if you like
The Orb, Kraftwerk, The KLF
Label
International Deejay Gigolo Records
Hell: Teufelswerk

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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H
ell (aka DJ Hell, aka Helmut Josef Geier) is a German DJ who has tried a little bit of everything. In the electronic community he's most well-known for his electro work, but he's also dabbled in house, ambient, trance, hardcore and even a little bit of hip-hop. He's the kind of DJ who, while never hitting it big on the mainstream charts, has always been able to crank out hit after hit for the club circuit and has earned massive respect for his diversity as a DJ, producer and remixer, especially in Europe. His newest album is Teufelswerk, a two-disc affair with one disc labeled "Day" and the other "Night." "Day" is more ambient and low-key, while "Night" is an excursion into house and the full-on electro/house.

Both are goddamn masterpieces.

First up is the Day disc, which is an ambient journey that rivals The Orb's Adventures into the Underworld and The KLF's Chill Out for pure hypnotic brilliance. It builds slowly, with the ambient opener "Germania" starting with a minute of near silence and going four minutes before even the first hint of a beat kicks in. That epic nine-minute track is merely just an opening act for what follows, the 13-minute "The Angst/The Angst Pt. 2," which builds upon the quiet wonder of "Germania" with some throbbing beats, dissonant synths and even some acoustic guitar. From there things slow down, first with two quick interlude tracks and then with "I Prefer Women to Men Anyway" which begins what sounds like the sounds of a computer struggling to boot up before additional electronic beeps fill in the blanks to create another electronic masterpiece. The disc ends with "Silver Machine," a chilled-out take on a Hawkwind track and the perfect ending to a perfect CD.

If Teufelswerk was just the "day" disc, it would still be one of the best electronic albums in recent memory, but it's only half the record – and the second half is arguably even better. The disco beats of "U Can Dance" get it off to a great start, and the guest vocals of one Bryan Ferry surely don't hurt things, either. From there Hell travels back to what made Germany the worldwide leader in electronic music: classic miminalist synth-pop bliss. "Electronic Germany," "The Disaster," and "Bodyfarm2" are all retro-flavored delights that recall the best of Kraftwerk with their simplistic sound and sparse robotic vocals. "Hellracer," "Wonderland" and the finale "Friday, Saturday, Sunday" crank up the tempo a bit, injecting some old-school Detroit House into the mix to create some dance cuts that will cause euphoria in the minds of ravers worldwide.

No matter the speed or subgenre Hell tackles, he's unstoppable, a force of nature crafting one brilliant piece of art after another. Is that enough hyperbole for you? Here's some more: Teufelswerk is brilliant, a transcendent example of everything that is great about electronic music compiled into one two-hour epic journey of ambient, electro, disco and house. This is Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume 1 good, this is KLF's The White Room good, this is Massive Attack's Blue Lines good. There hasn't been an electronic album this consistent and awe-inspiring in at least a decade. His name may be Hell, but his music is nothing sort of heavenly. An absolute must-have and an easy contender for album of the year.

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