German synthesist Stefan Erbe has been releasing albums for 10 years or so and in that time has gained many followers with his own brand of synth music that mixes the dynamics of dance with the melodic variety of instrumental EM. These 14 tracks are the fruits of his most recent work and were originally made available as mp3s on his website. If you are unable to get to grips with this then they can be recorded onto a CDR which is a worthwhile investment as there is plenty to recommend here. Unusually for a musician working in these styles, the spectre of Kraftwerk very rarely raises it's head, only the darting rhythms which help make "Cosmic Pinball" a most suitable title bringing the Dusseldorf band to mind.
Concentrating on one recognisable style for so long has left Erbe with a good grasp of melodics, arrangments and progression which means that the album is never boring with highlights to be found throughout. As a rule the rhythms are not exactly 'in yer face' being fairly lightweight which means that even the more up-tempo tracks such as the pacey "Intermediate" or "Droids Don't Dance" (they might after hearing this!), "Wargames" or "Reflected Images" prove good listening rather than all-out dance floor pleasers. The closing "Follow Me" does have a grittier edge, thanks to some effective guitar samples and the trance touches of "Found In Nomansland" also come closer but, as a rule this is music to get your feet tapping merrily rather than your whole body moving. This works best with the laid back offerings such as the hip hop/reggae touches of "Precinct Of Sound" (the voice samples should also raise a smile or two!) or "Hopeless World", a very cheerful and happy piece, not echoing the title at all."Earthview" is nicely laid back with pleasant chords wafting over you like a summer breeze while, on a slightly different level "Popmuziek" creates a cosmic feeling of space and tranquility which again does not reflect the title at all.
I do feel that to gain greater success with his music Erbe needs to show a more adventurous frame of mind but overall this can be seen as a worthwhile progression from his earlier releases and I'm sure that many will find the music of Stefan Erbe a breath of fresh air.
Artist Link: http://www.erbemusic.de