A native of Linz, Austria's third largest city, Parov Stelar – AKA the rather more Teutonic-sounding Marcus Fuereder - is the head of Etage Noir Recordings. Home to a small but colourful roster of like-minded musicians, DJs and producers, the label nurtures those who share a love of fusing modern dance beats with more organic sounds.
Shine, Stelar's third album, will be a welcome addition to any record collection that already features St.Germain, Moby and fellow Austrians Kruder and Dorfmeister. Clocking in at nearly an hour, it's a slick, toe-tappingly soulful stew of breakbeat, house and jazz, featuring live trumpet, saxophone and vocals alongside the main man's electronic wizardry.
Like Moby's once ubiquitous album, Play, Shine is at turns uplifting, solemn and occasionally cheesy, using a range of samples to effectively evoke different moods. The best example of this is the sinister groove of Lost In Amsterdam, which combines a portentous brass riff with a vivid voiceover to create a three-and-a-half minute film noir soundtrack that is utterly beguiling.
Sometimes music like Stelar's runs the risk of becoming the inoffensive soundtrack to a dinner party, and while some of the tracks here do simply meander pleasantly, he does occasionally prove adept at making your ears prick up unexpectedly. The absurdly catchy Charleston Butterfly will send you careering round the room like a flapper on acid. Happy End's lazily squalling trumpet and laid-back beats bring to mind Groove Armada's At The River, with an added dose of continental chic. And closing cut, Homesick, throbs and pulses with menace before spreading its wings and taking off as a real dance floor anthem.
A work of effortless sophistication and not inconsiderable invention, Shine establishes Parov Stelar as one of the most promising producers active in Europe today. The third largest city in Austria may not be big enough for him much longer.