Tensnake, AKA Hamburg DJ-producer Marco Niemerski, arrived in clubland in 2005 – not 2010 as the global success of ‘Coma Cat’, his biggest single to date, might otherwise suggest. Debut track ‘Around The World’ spawned from an enriched childhood diet of soul, boogie, disco, funk and 1980s pop – later to be supplemented by the soulfully up-tempo dance of everyone from Larry Levan to Junior Boys Own. But without question, Tensnake gloriously came to the fore in 2010 with ‘Coma Cat’, a now iconic clubland cocktail of Eighties synth-bass, splintered vocals and magical vibraphone melodies.
Follow ups included ‘Need Your Lovin’, a booted sultry female song over trademark funkiness which paved the way to debut album Glow whjch saw collaborations with the likes of Nile Rodgers, Jacques Lu Cont (AKA Stuart ‘Les Rythmes Digitales’ Price), Jamie Lidell and Aussie chanteuse Fiora.
However, this year has found the artist returning to his aliases’ original, fully-focused disco-dance roots. Summer EP ‘Keep On Talking’, Tensnake’s most recent work, counterpoises the soulful bounce of its title track with far darker, bass-ier stabs and thrusts courtesy of tech-twister ‘The Walk’. Tensnake, it seems, is re-focused on the dancefloor, which leads us nicely to his upcoming performance as part of our NYE event at Ministry Of Sound in London, where Tensnake will be appearing alongside Andrea Oliva, Sam Divine, Sonny Fodera, Franky Rizardo, Copyright and Purple Disco Machine.
In readiness for that hugely-anticipated event, here are 6 reasons you need to be there...
Tensnake - Holding Back (My Love)
Released as part of his ‘In The End (I Want You To Cry)’ EP on Gerd Janson’s mighty Running Back imprint, this was the beginning of Tensnake’s promotion to bigger leagues. ‘Holding Back’ perfectly reflected Niemerski’s broadening nu-disco vision, an arrestingly unhurried robo-disco treat building up from cool, lackadaisical beats to an almost Balearic smorgasbord of tinkling cowbells, cyber vocals (output by Niemerski), shifty bass and piercing synthesizers. It’s richly atmospheric, thoroughly distinctive stuff that’s ripe for endless rotation and reinterpretation – no surprise, then, that Running Back have just issued a whopping ‘In The End’ remix EP with several new takes on ‘Holding Back’. It’s a major back catalogue moment to which the likes of Tiger & Woods, Shan and DJ Oyster now add tauter and, in the case of the latter, tech-ier thinking. Neat work but the original still lords it…
Azari & III - Reckless With Your Love (Tensnake Remix)
You could almost accuse Niemerski of recklessness with his Tensnake remix of former Toronto indie-dancers Azari & III – running as it does between the disparate influences of Snap, Soul II Soul and C&C Music Factory, and all in the service of revamping the original’s basement rave vibe. That’s quite a combination but one that Niemerski negotiates with aplomb. Tensnake stretches and transforms ‘Reckless With Your Love’ into an utterly transfixing seven-minute, Nineties-flavoured hustle that’s pretty much tailor made for the Ibizan outdoors. Early adopters included Annie Mac, Mark Ronson and a whole heap of blog influencers already hyped to the gills by ‘Coma Cat’….
Tensnake - Coma Cat
‘Coma Cat’ padded confidently into view a few months before ‘Reckless With Your Love’ and lingered long after it, an out-and-out career highlight as yet unsurpassed. The track finds Niemerski in rampantly upbeat mood, its euphoric electro-disco-boogie groove propelled further forward by that classic vibraphone riff, and a gloriously judged blend of soul and radio sheen. There are monster hooks but, with them, real credibility. Tensnake’s thrilling, soaring vision would scale dance charts everywhere and dominate Ibiza, whilst demanding loyal and kaleidoscopic support through everyone from Ame, Dixon and Optimo to Pete Tong and Kissy Sell Out via The Revenge and Jazzanova. Big ‘Cat’…
Tensnake - Need Your Lovin
A dub version of ‘Need Your Lovin’ actually appeared on 2010’s ‘Coma Cat’ EP, proffering Tensnake’s most complete connection to the original disco sound yet. Niemerski had also recorded a vocal version – his first production with a full song – but restricted it to the digital ‘Coma Cat’ release. It wouldn’t stay there. Early and intense club buzz guaranteed the full ‘Need Your Lovin’ its own official launch (backed by a Tiger & Woods remix) in November 2011. Whilst less immediate than ‘Coma Cat’, the track is a sparkling, wonderfully involved slice of vintage disco leveraging its melodic and emotive heft to maximum dancefloor effect. At the time of release, it was to kick-start an exciting new phase of Tensnake production that would ultimately culminate in 2014 debut album Glow.
Tensnake feat. Nile Rogers & Fiora - Love Sublime
Certain commentators viewed Glow, Tensnake’s pop-gilded debut album on major Virgin-EMI, as too much of a sanitized compromise to his swaggering nu-disco style. Nevertheless, its commitment to full-bodied song, production and artistic collaboration reaped several rewards. ‘Love Sublime’, a tie-up with rampantly revitalised Chic man Nile Rogers, is case in point – Tensnake’s crisp ‘n’ funky backing gaining standout allure via Fiora’s earnest vocals and, of course, Rodger’s trademark guitar licks. Rinsed by Zane Lowe and Annie Mac, and enhanced by excellent supplementary remixes from Ewan Pearson, Le Youth and Duke Dumont, ‘Love Sublime’ came about thanks to some casual banter on Facebook - Niemerski mailed Rodgers, Rodgers replied minutes later, the pair agreed to meet at the Miami Winter Conference, and subsequently fell into an electric studio session spawning both ‘Love Sublime’ and additional album track ‘Good Enough To Keep’.
Tensnake - The Walk
From a warm and fuzzy Glow to the darker pulses of ‘The Walk’…. One half of Tensnake’s latest EP ‘Keep On Talking’, the track is a searing return to the no-nonsense dancefloor. Niemerski fires a jagged synth riff over similarly sharp 4-4 before an exhilarating succession of drum rolls, moody breaks and rocketing strings – the latter, a la classic Detroit (think Derrick May). ‘The Walk’, released this summer, has consistently enlivened Ibiza whilst engaging many of clubland’s top DJs. It suggests another exciting artistic direction for Tensnake in the months to come – expect the unexpected.
Tensnake plays for Defected In The House at Ministry of Sound this New Year's Eve - full line-up and tickets