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Helena Hauff Discreet Desires Werkdiscs

Helena Hauff, in her first full-length release, has just produced an album of throbbing, three-dimensional electro that hums and buzzes with a dark and decadent energy. Given the reputation of her fabled DJ sets – eclectic, intense and incendiary – perhaps the biggest surprise is that the album sticks to a relatively narrow stylistic silo. But the restricted rhythmic focus only serves to highlight how ballsy and provocative her sound has become; her dalliances with the galvanised experimentalism of labels like PAN remains in the ethos if not the song structures of Discreet Desires. We all know that Hauff has great taste in music, and she’s channeled these influences in industrial, EBM and whiplash electro into a sound that is truly her own.

Opening track Tripartite Pact is a dark and industrial introduction – powerful, in an austere kind of way, but easily the album’s weakest. The synthesised strides of Spursoon obliterates it, signalling a shift that defines the rest of the album: simmering, sultry, and hard-edged electro, flowing like hot molten lava. With song titles that reflect two themes (sex and death), Discreet Desires is a powerful and primal statement. Adding to the feeling that these are raw recordings – trapped rather than coaxed onto tape – most of the tracks abruptly fade as Hauff’s melodies and synth lines degrade; the hum of Hauff’s machines has purposefully not been edited away.

The seven cyclical and hypnotic minutes of L’Homme Mort are exquisite: tumbling synths fighting for centre stage as a machine-gun drumbeat stutters in the background. Piece of Pleasure is gutsy, anthemic and draped in gothic aesthetics. Tryst bolts a sparkling melody on to an acid beat and pensive, snaking bassline. And the two helpings of Sworn to Secrecy – menacing and provocative – sound like lost classics from DJ Hell’s International DeeJay Gigolo vault. Hauff’s performances have become widely revered for extending and enhancing a long line of electronic experimentation, and Discreet Desires expertly transposes the dark matter of her DJ sets into an intense and impressive debut album.