Roman Flügel is little less than a household name at this point. As a classically trained musician in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, a chance encounter with Chicago house, in the form of a compilation gifted by his brother, led him to change the face of German dance music. From the seminal early works as Acid Jesus, along with Jörn Elling Wuttke, and his importance in the establishment of influential labels like Klang Elektronik and Playhouse, for over twenty years Flügel has advanced through projects and alter-egos spanning from minimal experimentalism to big-room anthems. These days he’s as likely to be seen on the bill at Amnesia in Ibiza as at Berghain.
ESP Institute is somewhat easier to locate. Sticking firmly to the underground, the last year for Lovefingers’ label has seen a prolific output of stunningly left-field releases from Benedikt Frey and Ground among others, so it’s no surprise to hear that Themes is a return for Flügel to his experimental roots, encompassing a variety of ambient and downtempo pieces composed from the bleep-indebted sound-palette that makes up his signature. ‘Theme’ I is a wistful opener to a diverse album, wholly synthetic but imbued with human emotion, from the wavering woodwind-like synth lead, to the the dry bleeps of its computerised percussion section. A kind of futurist re-imagining of the organic hand drums of new age music.