How did the myth surrounding the proverbial ‘difficult second album’ come about? And who first started the rumour that you have a lifetime to finish the first album, but two years at most for the second? It’s likely that all these platitudes simply got churned out of the cliché machine at some stage, but the fact remains: They are out there and they sometimes make life tough for musicians.
But not for Till von Sein. He simply approached the dictatorship of the schedule with a shoulder shrug; stress rolled off him like water off a duck’s back, and he released
his second album a good three years after his debut work #LTD. But isn’t Tilly the guy whose tour schedules barely leave any corner of the earth untouched? That’s right. In reality, those three years were compressed into a time frame during which other artists on the scene manage to put out a few EPs and remixes at most. More importantly, von Sein’s Precious is not merely a follow-up, it’s not just material for the next few years’ worth of tours: von Sein has recalibrated himself, reassessed his approach to creating an album cycle. He summed up his approach to recording this release with unambiguous brevity: “I wanted the album to get to the point.” While its predecessor could be described as performing a loyal service to the functional aspects of House, the tracks on this album dance to the everchanging tune of their author. Precious effortlessly does its name justice, forming a collection of interpretations of all the musical treasures that have left the deepest impression on von Sein as an artist. The album shifts between House, R’n’B and soulinflected pop, stylishly connecting the most remote bpms and succeeding, where many others have failed, in combining dancefloor compatibility with a touch of songwriter inspiration and even airplayability.
Following the intro, in which guest artist Lazarus seems touched by the spirit of Gil Scott-Heron, the first song on the album transports the essence of the latest TvS sound directly to your hips. Booty Angel feat. Kid Enigma simply oozes sex appeal, unzipping our inhibitions with its almost x-rated tongue-in-cheek swagger, its suggestive claps underscoring the sitting apparatus celebrated on this track, while its piano break paves the way for the musicality that infuses the entire album.
What follows is the disarming disco vibe of It’s all in the Spirits and No Luxury, a dubtinged track that continues the organic songwriting approach and opens up sensual reverberating voids that are adequately filled out by the vocal talents of The Black 80s. Young Again is probably the closest the album gets to outright R’n’B, with a call-and- response motif by featured artists Diamond Setter & Maria Leonard that is pure goosebump material.
Another highlight is the axiomatic The Manifest, featuring none other than Mr. V, who vocally kneels at the altar of House, creating a hymnic monument to the genre for the ages. The track is nothing less than a manifestation of the groove mantra, embodying a depth of feeling that made House an ageless, rocksolid musical entity over the last thirty years. “Some people say it was a guy called Jack who started this, but I don’t think so. It could’ve been Jack or Jill, that’s up to you.” When Mr. V addresses the genre that is his life’s passion, House becomes a goddess, the embodiment of the feminine principle. That’s something that needed to be said.
Further tracks include the impassioned jam Like Air, graced by von Sein’s ‘Suolmate’ Meggy, and Electric Love, again featuring Diamon Setter & Maria Leonard, which seems like a peaceful interlude, easing along at a leisurely 67 bpm.
Every single track is a jewel in its own right – but taken as a whole album, Precious becomes a treasure trove of the highest order. Has there ever been a German artist capable of creating a comparable sound? I don’t think so. But that’s incidental: What counts is that Precious is a timeless gem, proving again that Till von Sein is one of the few DJ/producers with an unmistakeable musical vision – and with the talent to translate that into his work.