For nearly 20 years now Danny Wolfers has been reshaping the sound of electronic music from his synth-stuffed lab up in the Hague. Best known for his work as Legowelt, he’s the analogue-addict constantly churning out off-kilter electro-infused dancefloor freakouts. Apropos of nothing, we’ve decided to take a chronological look at 20 perfect examples of exactly what makes Wolfers one of the most consistently interesting, engaging and exciting producers in contemporary electronic music.
Legowelt – Swimming PoolReports from the Backseat Pimp LP, 1999
Wolfers sets his stall out early on this Drexciya-goes-to-Laser-Quest classic. Heard nearly two decades on, and Swimming Pool sounds almost unusually harsh for him, but no worse for it. Brutally bare bones squelch and not much else make up an intriguing portrait of an artist as a young acid fan. He’d go on to produce work with more depth, richness, and replayability, but there’s something perversely honest about the sheer spareness of this track. Think of it as club-ready-juvenilia.
Squandra Blacno – Night of the IlluminatiNight of the Illuminati EP, 2002
Some records – and they span everything from Miss You by the Rolling Stones to Dennis Parker’s Like an Eagle – are born to strut around dancefloors, drawing every eye in the club on them, and this is one of those records. A deep, deep voice intones the title over and over, angelic chords chirrup away, and a bassline bigger than the galaxy itself pounds, pounds, pounds. A record that absolutely REEKS of pleasure, promise and some very pricey aftershave.
Legowelt – Disco RoutDisco Rout 12”, 2002)
Most electroclash material has aged about as well as you’d expect a tonne of cooler-than-thou relics from the very early 2000s to have done. Disco Rout, I’m happy to report, is still a breakneck ride through the neon-spattered NYC nights that the genre was founded on. File under: Spangly.
Klaus Weltman – Search YourselfCultus Island LP, 2004
Donning his Klaus Weltman guise, this paranoid, stripped back, stark cut of ping-ponging kosmiche sees Wolfers toning things down a touch, but retaining his trademark oddball energy. Like ghosts trapped in a machine, synths warble and waver, echoing into the infinite. The whole LP shudders with nervous kinetic energy, but it’s Search Yourself which we’ve been coming back to year after year.
Legowelt – Valley of DarknessBeyond the Congo EP, 2005
Beyond the Congo is exciting in the way that taking on a boss in Resident Evil armed with three bullets and some mixed herbs, or watching a grainy rip of a previously-banned slasher movie after a long weekend at a techno festival is exciting, i.e. resolutely fucking terrifying. I never knew that all I really wanted from music was a song that could definitely soundtrack the WW2 plane-based shoot ‘em up I spend a lot of time devising in my head. Then I heard Beyond the Congo and now I’m a believer.
Franz Falckenhaus – Operation NovemberStories From My Cold War, LP, 2006
Accidentally found yourself hosting yet another afterparty you didn’t really fancy? Want to get rid of the last stragglers before James Martin starts cooking a beef stew the size of Surrey on ITV? Easy – get this on the stereo, turn the volume up as high as possible and swoosh open every pair of curtains possible. The combination of intensely creepy soundtracky-electronics and dismal morning light has been proven to eradicate 99% of post-sesh detritus. Also a great headphones number for when you want to turn an early-evening stroll to Sainsburys for loo roll and lemongrass into a sequel to The Conversation.
Gladio – Fighting in the NorthHadrian’s Wall, EP, 2007
Concept albums are usually masturbatory exercises in over-arching disappointment. Oh, you wrote a 14 track song cycle about Are You Being Served? That’s great but please don’t ever make me listen to it. There are exceptions of course, and the Hadrian’s Wall EP is one of them. As Gladio, Wolfers explores Julius Caesar creeping onto the beaches of Kent in the only way he knows how: with crunchy, cosmic, Commodore punishers. This is ancient history as heads-down EBM and it’s the best lesson this side of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Jackmaster Corky – Dimension 106Dimension 106 12”, 2008
Early house and acid still has the power to shock, sending you rushing into a relatively recent past that sounded like a future unimaginably far away. Like watching Ray Harryhausen’s skeletons knocking seven shades of shit out of one another, there’s something about the rudimental nature of it that makes it so effective. Dimension 106 is a gloriously crude approximation of those beat-the-box days, and one with enough heft to do serious damage to discerning dancefloors.
Legowelt – Flight of the JupiterVatos Locos EP, 2009
You remember Inspector Norse don’t you? You remember chucking your straw hat in the air when you heard it at a festival all those summers ago, back when you were young and carefree and full of vim and vigour and all you needed in this world was your best mates and a brick of cider? Yeah, well this is sort of like that except the cider’s been replaced by a potent blend of max-strength Lemsip and some MDMA pilfered from the time capsule your ex-raver uncle buried in the garden back in ‘92.
Dickie Smabers & The Moerwijk Crew – FC Den HaagFC Den Haag LP, 2009
Life’s great combos: beer and burgers, strawberries and cream, waterlogged electro and Dutch football. Wolfers’ ode to the yellow and green clad Eredivise strugglers sees him launching headfirst into the very depths of club music’s watery grave, with a track full of subaquatic whirrs and chirrups. Reports that De Ooievaars (the Storks to us) get themselves ready for a match with this thumper are, sadly, unconfirmed.
Legowelt – Sea Of NuhuhuSark Island Acid EP, 2011
There was a time when the future probably looked like it was going to sound like this; unhinged jaws swinging in a pastel-tinted breeze, limbs locked into the kind of syncopation that’s only possible when an 808 and a 303 decide to lay atop one another, synaesthesic washes of magenta and pale turquoise billowing on a tropically-scented breeze. That future never came to pass, but we’ve got this approximation of it. We’ll always have that. Sopping wet slab of sunrise-euphoria from the deepest reaches of the universe.
Legowelt – Elements of Houz MusicThe Paranormal Soul LP, 2012
Arguably the definitive Legowelt track, Elements of Houz Music couldn’t have been crafted by anyone else on earth, and each listen reveals yet another perfectly-judged layer in the mix. If hauntological deep house had ever been a thing, this’d be its calling card – eerily nostalgic, like eating an LSD-laced bit of Haribo. Like all the best of Wolfers’ output, it manages to both gloopy and smooth, real and alien, soothing and utterly disorientating. The unmistakable sound of a master at work.
Legowelt’s Memphis Rap MixDL, 2012
Compiled for Dummy, this slow-motion trawl through the archives of the southern city’s mid-90s rap scene comes on like taking a low-rider on a cruise through treacle. Slasher movie basslines roil around screeching G-Funk lead lines, all blurred with heat-haze and tape-hiss. It’s a bone-rattling mix custom built for summer nights where the sky burns a blasted pink.
Nacho Patrol – Nubian West CoastCimmerian Funk EP, 2013
Perhaps influenced by the Memphis tunes he’d been toying around with for the Dummy mix, this release as Nacho Patrol – not one of his better pseudonyms, admittedly – sees him firmly sticking in the sweat-soaked slow lane on this crunchy 5MPH roller. Ever wondered what it’d sound like of Dr Dre was holed up in the studio with The Hacker? Wonder no more.
Lords of Midnite – Drown in Ur LoveDrown in Ur Love 12”, 2013
DJ Haus’ Unknown to the Unknown imprint isn’t the most subtle of labels, so it’s no surprise that Wolfers’ work on it tends to veer towards the more maximal end of the Legowelt spectrum. Drown in Ur Love kicks like a vexed mule, proving that when he wants to, the man can craft the kind of technoid construction that’ll send big rooms and damp warehouses into complete pandemonium at 4am.
Legowelt – Cruise till the Sun ShinesLos Alamos Motel EP, 2014
At the last count, there was approximately 304304920934 alternate worlds where whatever song the writer’s listened to three times that morning deserves to be number one. Make it 304304920935, because somewhere beyond the Milky Way there’s a planet where this vocoder-heavy twinkler plays at every prom, wedding, and episode of Dinner Date going. Arguably the sweetest and most affecting tune in Wolfer’s gargantuan back catalogue, and one to whip out as Valentine’s Day edges ever closer.
Smackos & Voltagio – Shadow Wolf Cyberzine MixDL, 2015
Another mix, this one being what the man himself describes as “Ambient Trip Space Recreational Drug Use Relaxation DJ Mix,” which is, you have to admit, pretty much spot on. Coming on like a Tangerine Dream LP that’s been beamed into outer space with nothing but a duffel bag of weed and a stack of old Amiga magazines for company, this one’s for people who take incense very, very seriously.
Legowelt – Sampling WinterSampling Winter 12”, 2016
Lo-fi house, like aquacrunk or chap-hop, never really took off did it? One minute it looked like Ross From Friends was going to have 13 number one singles in a row and headline Knebworth and then… well, that might still happen. The point is that Legowelt’s commitment to hiss and crunch has played an under-appreciated role in the development of aforementioned microgenre, and this whirling, whistling whirlwind is about as good as 96kbps dancefloor workouts ever got.
Legowelt – Revenge of the NerdsLegendary Freaks in the Trash of Time, LP, 2017
We end our odyssey with this tripped out number which calls to mind Robocop ice skating on Promethazine, which in a way, is what all of Danny Wolfers’ music sounds like. Long may he continue locking himself away with 30 synths and what must be some very strong, very good weed.