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CD Feature/ Artridge: "Butterfly Wing Theory Part 1“

img  Tobias

Albums like „Butterfly Wing Theory“ are bound to become scarce. In a world increasingly serving information as easily digestable micro-snacks, building sustained and demanding tension archs certainly seems out of place, out of touch and beyond most listener's attention spans. Britney Spear's dictum that you need to win over audiences in the first three seconds of a song has proved to be a new paradigm and the advent of the ringtone – musical constructs without beginning, development and end – has meant that instant satisfaction is increasingly gaining ground over the joys of meticulously and actively decoding an artistic code over time. And yet, Robin Pleil and Christoph Mainz of Artridge are neither nostalgic reactionaries nor cerebral rebels.

If one disregards the conceptual angle of their latest full-length, after all, one could even argue that their eclectically informed, border-defying, genre-ignoring and multilayered approach is a perfect mirror image of this century's pluripole tendencies. Even though „Butterfly Wing Theory“ sounds more cohesive and focussed than its wilfully colourful predecessor „Finished Soundtracks for Unshot Films“, it is still marked by a plethora of carefully aligned influences and distinct stylistic references: Electronica, Industrial, Ambient and even dark slardes of Punk are integrated into ambitious Post-Rock textures. Melody and harmony empathically embrace groove, texture and the Avantgarde. Songs are transcended into intuitive flows and improvisatory structures condensed into concentrated compositions.

Most importantly, Pleil and Mainz are – virtually and with utmost delicacy – returning to a format so-called experts have declared dead for the better part of the last two decades: The band. Even though it is audibly steeped in thoughtfully implemented technology, the album's instrumentation is not overly dissimilar from that of a rock group: Piano, Organ, Synths, Bass and Electric and Acoustic Guitars form the backbone of all but a few tracks (the politically inspired and EBM-oriented „Dallas Ditchwater“ constituting a noteable exception) and a total of four Drummers has leant an unpolished, percussive metronome to the production. As a result, a record which could have turned top-heavy for the sheer weight of ideas injected into it during an extensive creational period of five years, now sounds perfectly organic and – whatever that may mean in an age of various simultaneous realities – tangible.

This, however, is not a means to its own end. Instead, „Butterfly Wing Theory“ uses the slight irregularities caused by man-made imperfections to create the notion of space, fluency and infinite possibilities. If there is a Kraut-feeling to the record, then it is not just because obvious stand-out track „Charcoal“ developes the same kind of hypnotic humanoid pulse 70s-rhythm-sections were famous for. It is because trying and experimenting are essential parameters of arriving at satisfying results here. This does not exclude control and regulation: Not once do Artridge allow their pieces to drift into limbo, restricting the length of their excursions to a maximum of six and a half minutes and even including a couple of barely one minute long miniatures into their caleidoscopic continuum. And yet, the relaxed and unhurried pace they're displaying, the discipline in restricting themselves to a minimum of selected themes and their preference of staying in the moment rather than aiming for a linear destination vector, lends a sense that anything might truly be possible to their music.

Another thing is essential in this context as well. Returning to the conceptual side of things, hinted at by the album title's suggestion that more volumes are to follow in the future, it is probably the implicit notion that all compositions are somehow connected here which binds the shattered pieces of the puzzle (sometimes consisting of nothing but a single, dirty Rock Riff) together. Ironically, then, neither the booklet nor the press release reveal all that much about a concrete narration – citing „sombre reflections on everyday life, media footage and personal convulsions“ as underlying themes instead. The real triumph of Pleil and Mainz lies in their ability to turn these vagueries into something deeply intimate and into decidedly more than the sum of its individual parts. Albums like „Butterfly Wing Theory“ are sure to become even scarser over the years to come – grab your copy now.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Artridge

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