by: Ellen Allien

On 2003's Berlinette, Ellen Allien reveled in the stops and starts, in pinching her already-precision percussion stabs into tetchy bunches of sharp black commas and apostrophes. It made for music that was futuristic, excitingly tense, and, well, totally German. Allien's back after an EP and a remix album with the sleeker but no less fun Thrills. It's more concise than Berlinette, beginning with the insistent layering and chopped reverb guitar of "Come," a track that's Berlin's ultimate answer to Achtung Baby if there ever was one. And it continues. The churning "Your Body Is My Body," "Ghost Train"'s gentle clockwise cascade, and "Naked Rain"'s brittle, almost synth pop feel -- these are songs that move feet and stroke chins. Allien is a world-class DJ, so the dancing part is no surprise. But blending those consistent beats with synthetic detachment and left-field moments? Thrills puts "experimental" and "techno" on balance. ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi

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