Column One
The Audience Is Sleeping

By Elizabeth Wells

 
Put together with the input of collaborators such as Rechenzentrum, this Berlin-based collective release their follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2001 album Electric Pleasure.

Again what strikes the eye before the ear is more gorgeous artwork, featuring a snowy landscape peopled by nesting doves. The music itself is a collage of micro-rhythms, field recorded samples and voice cut ups, but unlike many other contemporaries who also work in this field, the music doesn’t seem to come second to the artistic vision.

What is created is still musical, and still evokes pathos and melancholy on the part of the listener rather than an indifferent kind of admiration for technique only. This is evinced on the opening track, Flohturm, which builds up contemplative classical violin and marries it with the sound of a tolling church bell, creating a potent atmosphere of graveyards and Gothic melancholy. Eine Fensterscheibe wird Eingeschlagen uses cut-up rhythms and abrasive, percussive noises to create a coherent rhythmic backdrop before tearing it all apart with a great loop of static noise. New World Teen Study builds up minimalist techno before coming to an interesting climax of fragmented hip hop vocals.

Finally watch out for Foule featuring B, who presumably stands for Bjork, because they’ve sampled the Icelandic singer saying ‘Acid Beats’, which has a strange charm amongst the glacial background laden with glitchy noise and high-pitched strings.

I found this album strangely satisfying, despite its sparseness. Column One’s range of sounds may sometimes seem a little minimalist, perhaps even purist, but the techniques used to create these cold landscapes remain consistently interesting.
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