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CD Feature/ photophob: "Still Warm"

img  Tobias

By now, photophob has carved out a destinct niche of his own, marked by two main pillars: Mournful Ambient in the colours of autumn and melancholic IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) in the tradition of Aphex Twin - but with a highly personal spin. After his big, floating epic “November 30th” on the German tonatom netlabel, it was time to enter the realms of broken beats and surreal sounds again with this, his second release on Hive Records. And just like its predecessor “Your majesty machine”, it creates a delicate tension by juxtaposing what appear to be irreconsilible differences.

Which is, in a nutshell, the whole idea behind IDM, a genre which still has its roots in techno and rave, but its mind in a random dream generator. The question always being: What will happen, if digitally processed, razor sharp beats are mutilated, torn apart, rebuilt, slowed down and sped up and then combined with squeaking, squealing, bouncing, bubbling, creaking, crunching, gnashing, grating and gritting noises? What will happen, if the linear structures of the Chicago pioneers are turned into curvy roads or parabols? On “Still Warm”, the result is neither right-out wacky, nor brutally deformed, but highly organic. It is almost as if figure head Herwig Holzmann conceives his musical themes as genetically engineered insects, which he sets out in a clearly defined space to crawl between and over each other, causing continuous ans ever-changing impulses and little sparks of energy. Fragments of sweet, romantic melodies hover on warm analogue pads of immense deepness, flowing through a bed of dakrness, while powerful rhythmical structures twist and turn like a Rubic’s cube in the hand of an android. And thus the extremes of the different poles neither eradicate each other, nor do they meet in the middle. Instead, the sweetness of the golden days of yore and the futuristic high-voltage machinery make for a well-balanced new entity, driven on by both the beats and intricate musical motives. The immanent danger of repetition is certainly present on an album, which spans sixty minutes and fifteen tracks, but photophob has managed to create enough diversity between fast-paced tracks and slowed-down moments of relaxation and between accessible passages and noisy outbreaks to make the result a finely dosed journey through imaginary landscapes of sometimes breathtaking beauty.

None of the arrangements follows a dogmatic pattern and even though the most immediate and overwhelming pieces (such as “Bad Habits” and “What went wrong?”) are to be found in the beginning of the album, some heavily pounding bass lines and hypnotic sequencer patterns make up for this in the end. “Still Warm” may not be a revolutionary step forward, but why should it be? It is in the niche that an artist will feel most comfortable in , that he will best be able to mould his vision into sound. And that is exactly what photophob seems to have acchieved here.
 
By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: photophob
Homepage: Hive Records

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