Hands In The Dark
As I gazed at extortionate collector prices for a copy of Bitchin Bajas’ out-of-print Krausened EP today, it occurred to me how much had changed since then. (And that maybe I should be grateful there are copies to be had.) Transporteur hints at their last, self-titled album, with the group’s latest release appearing to be pillaging the off-the-cutting-room-floor bassoons or bass clarinets. Only where that last seemed deliberate, and deliberated over, nothing on Transporteur feels especially thought through. Arpeggiators arpeggiate, drones drone, but nothing sticks. I still love them, but as far as collectibility goes, maybe don’t stockpile this one quite as assiduously…
Apparently, not every single thing Kompakt puts out is great. My worldview is shaken to its very core, cats dogs living together total anarchy, &c. That said, even this not-especially-memorable artist album has a few knockout moments, so rather than rag on at length about wack vocals (“Underverse”) I would like to point you to the subtly original dub-tech-house of “Goldilocks” and even “Restless Summer”. You can see the sort of goth romanticism in a handful of Terranova’s tracks serving a certain purpose in a Michael Mayer Immer mix, for example, but mostly the clunky, disjointed attempts at anthemic grandeur come off like junior high school theatre nerds speaking to each other in olde English – in short, tedious.
Is anything less endearing among amazing producers than realizing that said producers can do multiple genres with ease? It seems silly but it bears repeating that we do not trust you if you seem to do too many things well. (See also: Bjork, Andre Ethier, Michael Bloomberg). Pixelord is not going to escape that trap, which is a shame in one sense – twisted hip-hop beats like the Destiny’s Child-tweaking “Ottawa” are nearly as solid as plaintive yet garage-y cuts like “Bodo” and “Novosib.” The variety probably makes him harder to market, but it certainly doesn’t make him hard to like.
Lakker has made some frighteningly unrelenting singles and EPs for R&S so I was pleasantly surprised to find tunes like “Mountain Divide” on Tundra, blending the drum-corps assaults of his earlier stuff with touches of rusty, reverbed-out drone and keening high-register vocals. Tundra has plenty of slam-dunk moments, but it really shines when Lakker explores different moods beyond just the total panic of humans stuck in a fancypants space station’s trash compactor. (In fairness, it also does that very well – see the urgently throbbing “Milch” and “Ton’neru.”) “Halite” sounds more like the soundtrack to a night driving scene in a Michael Mann movie, while the album-ending two-fer of “Oktavist” and “Herald” brush lightly up against the skittering hits of early Autechre while channeling ambient Aphex Twin – never a bad thing.