Mano le Tough spends a lot of time in the club. In 2014, the Irish-born artist played more than 100 gigs all around the world - landing at number eight on Resident Advisor's annual DJ Poll in the process - but when the time came to make Trails, the follow-up to his lauded 2013 debut album Changing Days (PERMVAC 105CD/LP), he knew that a little time away from the dancefloor was in order. As such, he took a break from DJing, decamped to the Swiss countryside, and adopted a new routine, one that involved waking up at dawn each day and taking long meditative runs through the hills and forests overlooking Lake Zurich before planting himself in the studio. The resulting flood of inspiration produced Trails. It's full of slow-brewing, melody-driven tracks, many of them featuring Mano's emotive vocals; for fans of Changing Days, Mano's earlier EPs, or even Maeve, the rising label he runs alongside close friends The Drifter and Baikal, there is plenty to love here. While there's never been much doubt about his skills as a producer, Mano's career was largely forged in the DJ booth, and his many extended sets in clubs such as Berghain and Trouw have gradually lent his production work an impressive sense of patience. The songs on Trails swell and blossom at a deliberate pace while blurring the lines between house, techno, new wave, ambient, and classic pop music. DJs may gravitate towards the album's soaring club cuts (I See Myself in You, Sometimes Lost), but songs like Half Closed Eyes and Empty Early Years and the Seed find Mano deftly balancing his pop impulses with the demands of the dancefloor. Elsewhere, Trails channels new wave while employing a hooky no wave guitar riff, and Meilen offers up a bit of balearic bliss. Then there's the Energy Flow, a track that puts Mano's vocals front and center and just might be the most emotionally naked thing he's ever produced. Granted, this sort of variety has long been a staple of Mano's DJ sets, but Trails is perhaps the first time that his diverse tastes have been so coherently reflected in his own music. Without question, the album is Mano le Tough's deepest, most personal, and most potent work to date, and while it's undoubtedly been influenced by his time in - and reverence for - the club, it's reach goes far beyond the dancefloor.
Each record is protected within its record sleeve by a white vellum anti-dust sleeve.
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