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Net Decks 21

img  Tobias


I am a fan of minimalism not only in music, but in design as well. Imagine my enthusiasm when discovering the site of soundart-netlabel Homophoni. Admittedly, they have been around for quite some time and hit number twentyone in their discography already - and yet for some strange reason this news has never reached me. Thanks, therefore, to the man who made me aware of the outfit’s existence: Asher Thal-Nir. Now, in contrast to his record company and thanks to a string of releases he’s sent me, Asher is no stranger to me. In fact, I consider him to be an immensely fascinating and unique voice on the experimental scene, as well as a man whose tendency for abstraction and purity does not stem from a desire for credibility and coolness, but from the wish to express feelings and thoughts too fragile to survive the translation into the world of words and rationales. “In Camera” is a 25-minute short, single track publication which offers everything his style stands for. There are field recordings and concrete musical events, ever-so-carefully played piano tones and drones welling up from silence like milk boiling over in slowmotion. Static and hiss suddenly become emotional events, act as lead motives in an envirnment full of symbols, allusions and signs made up of the most silent of noises. With its reoccuring street scenes, there is a certain closeness to Asher’s latest physical album release, “the depths, the colors, the objects & the silence” on Belgian company “Mystery Sea”, but “In Camera” is more fragmented, scenic, hushed and discreet. A broken chord will appear from the void, yet always lapse back again, making way for interacting tapestries of finely woven sound manipulations, scratchings, tappings and memories of water.As always, Asher’s leaves his audience heartbroken, touched and torn with a music considered by some as academic. This may well be the first time you’ll cry without knowing why.

It is interesting that many people are still making a distinction between music produced with hardware synthesizers and their PC (and I openly admit being one them). As "Smart Echoes For Sensitive Ears" on the One Bit Wonder Netlabel proves, that differentiation no longer makes sense any more. Years of experience hide behind this dazzling project from Gerau, Germany – years spent with taking in the techno hype of the 90s, the perfectioning of digital sound synthesis and the advent of sampling. It took a lot of time for Audiokonstrukte to make the step from listening to writing and then yet more time to move from physical to virtual keyboards. To me, this can be a sign of many different things: Shyness, laziness, inertia. In this case, however, it appears to be a genuine sign of seriousness, of not just blindly rushing in to release everything in an extroverted frenzy, but to wait for when the right moment has come. And that moment has certainly come with "Smart Echoes For Sensitive Ears". On thirteen short tracks, the album builds a dreamy, peacefully sedated mood of complete and utter bliss. Relaxed offbeat shuffles and muffled echoes play their part, as do atmospherically sighing pads and voices, but they’re neither quotes nor questionable attempts to belong to a particular scene. Audiokonstrukte instead builds his own worlds, full of sensitivity, soft hooks and gentle sinkers. Somehow, he even manages to fuse discreet abstract soundmanipulations with an endearing musicianship on pieces like “Soki Nyha Ten” (with a darkly uplifting lead) or to sound like a more groovy version of Pole on closing piece “Parkbench”. How long will it take this man to arrive at his next album?

In “Net Decks 19” I celebrated the discovery of Alt Recordings, a new Netlabel keen on making a difference on the UK scene. Only two weeks later, they’re back with a cool new (yet not quite finished) website and two freshly squeezed releases which prove the hope invested in these guys was completely justified. “Not another Netlabel Vol. 2” follows in the footsteps of its brother and presents a new round of cuts from the Alt Recordings team. Audio Dependent, who closed off things in style last time around now acts as opener to this EP and his “Yes Sey” is another killer track: A powerful electro stomp, furious acid lines and lots of bleeps panning atonally from here to there and back again. More aggressive and edgey than last time around, but still every inch as intoxicating. In direct contrast, J-Lab (the only new face in this crowd of four) presents a gloomy garage vision of a spaced-out after-party on “With Love”, a piece with lots of breathing space but a great deal of inventiveness, even digging up some (short-lived) symphonic strings in the process. The mixture between boneydry minimalism, an open ear for surprises and a subtle taste of humour is still pervasve, regardless of listening to the brute beats and enigmatic chords of Mr Smith or the constant electric jabs of Joe Ellis. Tone Def rounds things off nicely with warm bass rolls and a quirky sawtooth motive, which keeps gnawing at the track’s trunk like a rodent on a sound diet.

Talking about a bizarre kind of humour: Alt Recordings just received their first demo, produced by a certain Daniel Schneider. His message, according to the label, was simple: 'Like your label, here are three tracks for you. Take them or leave them! Peace - Daniel Schneider.' Any attempts to contact Daniel have failed, but his music has nonetheless made it to the Alt Recs catalogue: The “Not another Schneider EP” consists of three spartanically orchestrated tracks almost completely driven from delicate transitions in the percussion lines. “Miesekatze”, a bastard between maniacal drum anthem and clinical electro monster, gets a remix treatment from Tom Ellis, who fades the original structure to a wonderfully crispy crackling and tests its compatibility with a funky bass. Works for me.

Next to producing distinct and adventurous techno music, Mikel Mendia is also the man behind the INQ Mag, an online publication dedicated to the netaudio world. As of now, it not only serves as an information source on the latest releases and news from the scene, but also acts as a place for concentrated listening. Mendia has joined forces with the Kahvi Collective and asked DJ Polaski to remix a selection of the Collective’s tunes into a coherent, smoothly flowing mix entitled “monographic #1”. Polaski has certainly spent the time necessary to browse the vast Kahvi archive (which totals a staggering 800 track) well. His mix begins infinitely relaxed and anthemic, with lots of intricate hiphop beats, snippeted loops, sacral chords and ambient spaces, then enters an industrial wasteland filled with growling basses and solitary piano splinters, before returning to more consiliatory sounds again. The emotional span of “monographic” is remarkable, even including the ecstatic howls of electric guitars and the hushed discreetness of field recordings. A project to be savoured, which will hopefully see a follow-up soon – preferably one which includes new material by Mr. Mendia himself.

Childhood fantasies are among the most private things in the world. It is therefore a most bewildering sensation, when you find out someone else has been having the same dream. “This idea of a gradual takeoff from a sleeping bed to deep space is based on a childhood fantasy of mine:”, Michael Trommer says, “that my bedroom would separate from the rest of the house and blast off into the cosmos when I was sleeping.” Oddly, I thought of the very same thing when I was little, imagining my room to be caught inside a giant bubble, which would float silently through space. While many, many years made me all but forget this incredibly intense picture, Trommer came across some of “harris burdick's dreamlike magical-realist drawings” and decided he wanted to turn them into a musical reality. “Live Sleep” on Con-V is the result of this endeavour. To achieve an outcome as close to a “possible” (i.e. scientifically imagineable) event, he placed contact mics all over the house as well as the backyard, while everyone was sleeping. Part of the gradual transformation on “Live Sleep” is therefore organic, while the other stems from the starry-eyed cells of the composer’s imagination. To be sure, this is a trip not easily forgotten and a great example of what drone music is capable of. From the thick, breathing wall of sound that opens the action, to the sweet, cricket-like hummings of the middle section and the scraping noises of the finale, this almost an hour long spheroscape barely touches the outer rim of consciousness. It all ends with a live radiotelescope feed, which doesn’t sound alien at all. Whether or not this feeling of familiarity and security is as universal as childhood fantasies remains to be seen, though.

By Tobias Fischer


“Net Decks” is a weekly feature of 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

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