Since his first white label releases in 2011, TJ Hertz has acquired a reputation as a producer focused on the future. From his early bass-infused techno to the twisted metals of his Flatland LP for PAN, Hertz has never once sounded retro. Instead he has looked to dance music history only to reconfigure its DNA into warped new shapes. On top of these innovations, Hertz’ talent for immaculate sound design has consistently risen to meet the challenge of his ideas, balancing restraint with a raw club energy that always simmers near the surface.
After three years without releasing any music, Objekt now returns and has apparently decided that now is the time to look backwards – not to a classic style or sound, but to one specific club. The fourth instalment on his eponymous label is a tribute to Berlin club Basement Q, which closed its doors in 2012. Hertz spent a lot of time at the club, mentioning how owner DJ Bogdan hated right angles, “so everything was slightly askew and you never quite knew which direction was up.” This description just as capably describes Hertz’ new single, which continues to impress and wrongfoot the listener even as Hertz gets nostalgic.
The first track, Needle And Thread, is in familiar Objekt territory, an extended trip built around a meticulously detailed breakbeat and an album’s worth of subtle effects and details. It’s one of Hertz’ longest songs, nearing ten minutes, but doesn’t outstay its welcome thanks to a dynamic sense of pacing, unfolding across several distinct phases. If his goal was to squeeze the emotions of a whole night’s clubbing into a single track then he’s come pretty damn close.
B-side Theme From Q is much more of a surprise, taking its inspiration from an unreleased track by Basement Q’s eccentric owner DJ Bogdan. It seems that working from a source allowed Hertz to let his hair down a little, resulting in an airy breakbeat, an earworm melody and a typically inventive breakdown. As catchy as the core elements are, the sonic environment is pure Objekt, from tiny hiccups in the rhythm to queasy atmospherics and the occasional interruption of a barbed guitar sample. By reflecting on his formative club experiences, Hertz hasn’t just produced a superb pair of new tracks – he also sounds like he’s having more fun than ever before.