Hamburg-based producer and DJ Helena Hauff has had a slow but steady come-up. She started making a name for herself back in 2013, when her first release was picked up by Werkdiscs, the label started by Actress’ Darren J. Cunningham, and in 2015 she linked up with Ninja Tune for her proper debut, Discreet Desires. An EP followed, last year’s Have You Been There, Have You Seen It, and today Hauff is releasing her sophomore album, Qualm.
Hauff does a lot with a little — Qualm is mostly just a drum machine sputtering in and out of life, mixed with some ambient synth, but the German producer gets a lot of mileage out of that. There’s a tactile feeling to the album — it was recorded live and carries an improvisational precision to it. It’s frenetic and occasionally sweaty but also effortlessly cool, Hauff’s minimal intervention letting nature take its course.
There’s towering dance tracks — the one-two punch of “Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg” and “The Smell Of Suds And Steel” is especially choice — and more understated meditations, like the lovely “Entropy Created You And Me.” There’s also some interesting experiments, like the funhouse mirror pairing of “Qualm” and “No Qualm,” which refracts the same idea two ways. The album feels clanging and blown-out and endlessly dynamic, even when it’s spinning around in circles.
Qualm is out now via Ninja Tune.