Halfway through an album that ebbs and flows like the gentle wash of sea on sand, a digitized voice breaks the calm of Roman Flügel’s Happiness Is Happening. ‘Save me, because I am lonely,’ It croaks. ‘I thought you were happy.’
It’s strangely out of place, not just because it is the first time that any form of speech has been used, but because the pained distorted tone is unwelcome and harsh in the context of an album full of shimmering chords and rippling descants.
Perhaps though, the voice is representative of just why the album’s title is so clever, and so apt. ‘Happiness is Happening’ is more than just a nicely turned phrase, easy on the ear and comfortable on the tongue; it is a statement that is woven throughout the ten tracks. Despite the overtly artificial textures that cut jaggedly through the piece at various points, there is an overwhelmingly genuine feel to the album, highlighting the theme for what it is. Happiness might not always be obvious, but it is there.
In the early tracks, it can be found in the gliding techno of ‘Connecting the Ghost’, and the airy bass melodies of ‘Friendship Song’. It resides in the spacey textures that ease the album from Flügel’s house and techno roots into the realm of intelligent electronica, with the myriad of melodies allowed the room they need to expand without ever becoming confusing.
Just as darker sounds emerge, glimmers of hope interlace it throughout, dipping in and out of the foreground. Even in the sinister tones of ‘Parade’, Flügel never fully relinquishes the uplifting elements; the sweetly resonating chime amidst the deep eerie sirens may be hidden, but it always rises again, rearing its head to announce its presence just as you’re about to forget.
Somehow, the title just fits.
Happiness is Happening is out now on Dial.