Recordings for Rephlex


Second release from Austria duo Kilo sees them go off in a more tangible direction. Sure, this is adventure, but of a different kind. Florian Bogner and Markus Urban needed to dig deeper into the minimal vein and they've just struck gold. The grooves are overriding in the mellow category. If you want to go minimal, might as well go all out. Music is quite roomy and expansive. These two don't fill the gaps between the beats with useless clutter that would ultimately take away from their intended message. Percussion is innovating enough in the sense of making you perk your ears up. What the hell was the source for that sound? What in the world was that? Was that a drum machine? Are they sampling cutlery? The tweedy skipping sound on "Curtea de Arges" makes a nice impression. As it spreads across the track, it builds up slowly into what then becomes a complete track. By the time we get to "Walk straight, come on", the beat gets much fatter. Addition of horns make the track reminiscent of Herbie Hancock's "Sextant" phase. Dark and mystic, while retaining an atmosphere of freedom and agility. Hell, these guys can even rock. When the music shift gears on "Backdoors", Kilo sound more like a full-blown rock-out dance experience than a minimal act they're attempting to be. They're quoting more from Newman than Feldman. Then again, the finally is a tranquil piece full of tape-loops lied over a static bed. Lovely way to fade away a great record.
I never fully understood Pole. Stefan Betke's glitch-dub experiments simply left me out in the cold. There was little connection to be had when one was immersed in his music. Though his sixth full length "Steingarten" isn't exactly turning the knobs of my heart, it's at least taking steps in the right direction. This time around, the tunes sound freer, more zesty. "Winkelstreben" is an acid-trip through Chicago's glory days in the late 80's. Its delightful energy and sampled guitar wouldn't be too out of place alongside one of Psychic TV's acid projects. Elsewhere, on "Schoner Land", Betke lays down a hiccupy substance that is tweaked carefully in order to achieve a repetitive mix. One of the more obtuse numbers is "Madchen". With an array of blips, clicks and static-enraptured beats, the whole thing appropriates a new-age dub session. Then again, the beats are loser and there is no fatness here. In fact, the lack of a fat bottom is the missing thing for me running through all the tracks. By the time Betke gets to "Dusseldorf", he's clearly following in the footsteps of Kraftwerk and Steve Reich. The linear beat he sets loose on the track is both monotonous and tediously enjoyable. It's light, loose and more importantly, just plain fun?.and I don't remember last time I had fun while listening to a Pole record.
Pole may very well have been an influence on Gabriel Cyr, who runs with the Teleseen moniker. His dub landscapes have a similar shape and form that Stefan Betke's did when Pole first started up. Difference is, Cyr takes a more delicate approach to his dub. This guy is more about the glitches, the micro-sounds than anything Pole has produced. A track like "Xion Gate" features a light beat [minus any bass intensity] with a soft bed of static floating up above. Static seems to build up in intensity on "Burdens", which features a massive injection of warbly beats. Album's opener - the twelve minute "Malachai" - features an infinite beat that has remnants of bass bathed in water. Make no mistake, this is minimal stuff. Cyr does lots with very little. By the time you get to "The Liberty Halls", the beats are lighter, while the intensity of the static has subsided. He's sampling some interesting sounds, though origins are hard to come at. The most dub like track is "Work Will Not Set You Free", where the reverb is set on ultra-high and the beats are as close to Lee Scratch Perry's as anything you're bound to hear on the record. "War" turns out to be another fine example of how electronics and dub can go hand in hand. Viennese sound creator Florian Hecker is at the very opposite of the dub spectrum. Sure, this is still electronic music but much of it has more to do with pure noise than anything else. If you want to get deeper into this, let's just say the guy is mining the psycho-acoustic spectrum with great pizzazz. Eight separate pieces on the record were created between 2002 and 2004 and each one of these was done for a different occasion. Despite this fact, it's amazing how solidly coherent the record is. While "Acid 245; Ph.Inv 9T2" features a fair amount of squeaky feedback and rocking warbly distortion, "In Actu (Create 7.1 Edit)" dwells on a variety of techniques Hecker has learned so far. Ranging from various pulsar synthesis, waveset processing, dynamic stochastic synthesis and chaotic synthesis, Hecker mines a deep well on this one. In the range of twelve minutes, he goes from all-out noise, to confusing bleeps, to all-out feedback noise to chaotic cesspool of mathematical equations that will take an average human a zillion years to figure out exactly what the fuck he's really doing. When it sounds so good, you just can't resist another bite of the apple.

- Tom Sekowski

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