As we move further into the second half of techno’s fourth decade, techno and electronic music continue to be produced on an industrial scale.
Sonic overload is endemic and the fact that we’re on the brink of entering some of the darker futuristic scenarios electronic music has long imagined is no deterrent. The ecstasy of over-production continues without pause and often without reflection. In these conditions the relevance or necessity of much of what is produced can at least be questioned, even if only briefly before re-submitting to what was once called “the tyranny of the beat”.
This makes it all the more refreshing and pleasing to discover a new artist who isn’t simply producing by numbers and is putting forward some kind of a vision. On this release Roland Werk demonstrates that it’s still possible to innovate and to refresh the genre even while building on techno traditions.
Both the simple, textured artwork and the sounds deployed seem to hark back to the late 90s Berlin minimalism associated with artists such as Pacou and to return to, without simply repeating, that mode of tight, focussed innovation. The opening ‘Plauze’ is driven forward calmly but emphatically by a pounding dry kick underlying a spacious mix. It’s brittle and tense, animated by
twisting, dynamic sounds that manage to sound futuristically technoid and leave an underlying chill.
‘Waschbrett’ kicks in confidently. It’s a bolder and more affirmative track propelled by icy spaced out handclaps and nagging pulses. As it progresses the depth and skill of the mix become clear with cold, hypnotic pulses acting as sonic beacons illuminating an ever larger sonic space.
This is followed by ‘Zwergenwiese’, which has quite a different character but still fits well into the overall formula. It’s launched by a deep, rough double percussive impact. It’s still deadly serious but slightly more dancefloor-oriented than the other tracks. The spiralling tones create a sense of constant motion and it demonstrates that the more optimistic, visionary side of the techno tradition remains intact (even if not necessarily fully plausible in the real world).
‘Danach’ retains a positive, productive atmosphere. Sharp, busy percussive details invoke the spirit of Berlin minimalism without falling into the trap of simple re-enactment and produce a confident ending to a strong release from this new artist that indicates a positive future for the genre.