Cologne, Germany's Aksel "Superpitcher" Schaufler is in love, as the title to his debut LP indicates. Erase all images of women inspired by Swiss Miss packages from your head, however. What Here Comes Love reveals is that his heart does not lie with any one person or place, but in the slow, sensual dance of digital phantoms.

Schaufler is a serial monogamist, so while Here Comes Love is his first full-length collection of melancholy pop, it should not be an introduction for the observant listener. In recent years he has made a name for himself by releasing singles and remixes on the excellent label Kompakt. His work has been linked to the schaeffel beat school, a mode of production that draws on the shuffling stomp of glam rock for its momentum. Here Comes Love may not be as explicitly scuffed by the legacy of Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2" as other contemporary Cologne recordings, but the idea of friction is still intrinsic in his work, which manifests itself as emotional ambiguity.

"We don't need people to be alone/We are together on our own," he sings on Here Comes Love's first track, "People," a gently urgent contrast of chimes, flute pads, and hopscotch blips. Throughout the album's nine bobbing cuts, people take "The Long Way," burn from "Fever" (a Peggy Lee cover, the weakest track of the set), and swing from "Lovers Rock." Melodies flicker atop crisp drums, but intentions are never defined, and one is left to infer that the subjects of these songs make their decisions out of sheer, well, love of experience.

Those motivations result in what is best described as a compilation from one mind. The tracks all maintain a similar spirit, but they don't directly relate. The aloofness imbued in each extends across the disc, casting Schaufler as a road-weary but not worn-down figure pining, pulsing, and borne by a minimalist groove, striding confidently along familiar streets with brief dips onto new avenues. Still for the most part, his love of process seems to have kept him immobile. Only on the next-to-last track, "Happiness," is he enticed to shake the specters from his shoulders and burn some glue from his soles. Perhaps on the next album he will return to the dance floor. For now he invites you into his opium den, and a hypnotic, opulent den it is.

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Tony Ware