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Net Decks 13

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In his former life, Jason Szostek aka bpmf, was one of the protagonists of the second wave of electronic musicians, gearing himself up with some of the first home-synthesizers in the early 80s and entering an intermittent but busy release schedule mid-century onwards. His attempts at setting up a label were semi-succesful, but he more than made up for it with his 303-love statement „Acid Technology“, released with Prototype 909, a trio with seminal 12K founder Taylor Deupree and Dietrich Schonemann. Further projects with people like Fischer Spooner would follow, as would a ten year phase of recording a full-length apocalyptic science fiction epic, which is now simultaneously being made available as a professional CD and a free download. All of the aforementioned matters, because traces of the different phases of Szostek's past are omnipresent on „Parousia Fallacy“. To some, the album may sound retro, but the simple fact is that this man has never stopped using his old equipment. When writing a detailed analysis of each single track, the enthusiasm for his synths, drum machins and inbuilt arpegiators is almost contageous. Music is a playground for Szostek, which is also why the record has ended up being extremely airy and weightless for a concept album. The colourful symbiosis of drones, beats, snippeted vocal samples, psychedelic fantasies and irregularly looped chime cycles takes all intellectual ballast out of these sometimes wayward, leftfield and experimental tracks. Szostek is working on a naive avantgarde, he is approaching a strictly textural music from a groovy side and counterpoints straight rhythms with nonlinear theme development. While the more atmospheric side has ended up a mild version of progressive orchestral pieces („Ecce Homo“ was modelled on Strauss' „Also Sprach Zarathustra“), the ten-minute long „Trippin through the wild strawberry patch“ personifies the techno-influenced electronic headtrips of the album's core. Bpmf keeps the patterns and strcutures of acid alive, but he uses them as a basis to construct equally halucinatory and yet much more complex compositions of intricate minimalism.
www.bpmf.us

 

Interestingly enough, our second release this week has experienced a similarly long genesis. Phil Edwards played in various indie outfits all through the 90s. After a final split, he called it quits and disappeared from the music scene for a full five years. His return has been as quiet as it has been brilliant: Having discarded his guitar, Edwards now dabbles in friendly and silently furious, melancholic electronica, in a music full of disarming sentimentality and mystified abstractions. „A different place“ leans on saturnine melodies, which act as cushioned achors in a sea of sadness and as the core around which the pulp of the pieces timidly grows. The dark and dulcet ambiances of the underlying sonic tapestry alone would make for an intense listening experience, yet Edwards merely treats it as a backdrop for the development of his motives, never content with providing relaxing wallpaper. The combination of deadly effective and whisperingly calm ambient with seductively catchy material (possibly the last traces of his rock biography) manages to sound both sophisticated and sympathetic, spacey and sexy. Can't wait for the full-length debut.
www.netlabel.cold-room.com

 

Martin Juhls cites the cream of the crop of the academical and independent experimental scene as influences for his anything-but-ordinary ambient project krill.minima, but most of them have probably been godfathers merely in motivational and technical terms rather than being a blueprint: More emotional than Stockhausen, too mellow and dreamy for Sonic Youth, not deconstructive and dadaesque enough to bear any similarities to either Einstürzende Neubauten or their figurehead Blixa Bargeld, krill.minima is simply too personal and idiosyncratic to be a pastiche. And yet it is obvious that Juhls aspires to much more than just following in the footsteps of Pole and the clicks n cuts scene. One of the names dropped in relation to him has been Erik Satie, which suddenly makes a lot of sense when spinning the first track of his current full-length „Urlaub auf Balkonien“: „Sommerdellen“. While atmospherics made up of ever-so-gentle bubblings and waves of hiss create an abstractly figurative morphic field, the right hand playing the dream piano juggles two notes in hypnotic slow motion as the right one squirts blobs of shimmering irredescence on the screen of the third eye. As could be expected with Thinner, dub plays an important role, magic echoes setting up the tent under which crackling fires of scratches and dots, as well as sinister and silent drone threads rise to the sky like incense. Just like it is never 100% clear whether the music resides in major or minor key territory, its mood mysteriously sways between intimacy and estrangement without ever straying from its hermetically sealed path. As the album progresses, tracks get longer, more self-reflective and increasingly deep and dense, immersing the listener completely: Jules may build his pieces from sparse source material, but he weaves the individual elements tightly together in fascinating moodscapes. „Strandpalast“, the pre-finale, is a magnificent fluffy vision of a day at the beach from the little cosmos of one's small balcony – the album as a whole an aural holiday which promises just as much relaxation as two weeks on a lonely island.

Philipp Weigl, too, is a man of many shades. A classicaly trained musician (he is currently studying at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich) who has already released an album full of solo-piano material for free download from his personal homepage, his output mainly consists of atmospheric electronic music with hushed vocals and organically grooving beats. The human factor is essential to Weigl, as are melodic hooks and fluent structures. Because his approach is the very opposite of demonstrative activism, the intricacies and nuances of his style may only become apparent on a second listen, but anyone with a little bit of time on his or her hands and a romantic soul will find plenty of heartwarming details on his three-track comeback EP „Examples of a Medusa“. Weigl has invited drummer Michael Hoffmann to his studio, who contributes the cascading percussion rolls beating insistently underneath darkly spinning e-piano cycles and sustained orchestral string pads, building premonitious tension by layering loop upon loop. Philipp Weigl delivers the lyrics with a cool, absent-minded voice, very quietly but not in a whisper. Mixed way back, he turns into a part of the mood texture, yet retains a recognisable characteristic much warmer than the stereotypical cut-up spoken word contributions randomly inserted into technoid tracks. The border between electronic and acoustic means blurrs, as synthesized marimba passages and – probably – sampled guitar licks fill the last remaining holes in the isolationist arrangements, resulting in beautifully depressed, cinematic poetry.
http//thinner.cc

 

Finally, Das Kraftfuttermischwerk, a German duo who themselves were reviewed in „Net Decks 11“ with their most recent release on Thinner, feature an early celebratory serenade to the digital record company, as it approaches its 100th (!) release. Their „Netaudio Mixtape IV“ features nothing but slow dubs from the Thinner universe and takes listeners to an equally representative world as the label-commissioned selection by Larry Johnson: Das Kraftfuttermischwerk go as far back into history as Selffish's 2002-track „Oblivion“ and hit upon pretty contemporary developments with some magnificent cuts from the 2005-virtual 3LP set „Crossways“. This Mixtape is not just a great introduction to anyone who has missed out on approximately five years of thinner, but also as a summary of the entire dubtronica (or whatever you want to call it) genre, which in these contributions still sounds as futuristic as ever. From the hollow, pointilistic airgrooves of Digitalverein to the surreal roots-vision of Lufth and from krill.minima's widely noticed and highly praised full-length debut to Xoki's metallic „Forest Dub“, this is great food for unforced contemplation.
www.kraftfuttermischwerk.de

By Tobias Fischer

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“Net Decks” is a weekly feature of tokafi.com covering Netlabel releases from the techno and electronica scene. It is published each Monday. For including your infos, having your releases reviewed or joining the reviews team, please contact us at tobias@tokafi.com

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