Samuli Kemppi - The Observer Effect

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  • Techno albums are among the most difficult to get right. The palette they draw upon is generally leaner and more restrictive than those of albums based in genres like house or experimental music, which means the scope of sounds and feelings is often narrower. Artists have a choice: attempt significant variation (Answer Code Request's Code is a recent example) or focus on a specific style (Vril's Portal, for instance). Samuli Kemppi takes the latter approach on his debut album, The Observer Effect. Considering the consistently dark, sci-fi sound of most of his 20-plus singles, this isn't a surprise. The Observer Effect is the first album released by M_REC LTD. Kemppi first linked up with the Milan label in 2011, and is a near-perfect match with its lean and spacey aesthetic. M_REC LTD boss Max_M approached Kemppi, who'd just given his studio an extensive hardware upgrade, with the idea of making an album. Kemppi immediately went to work, compiling dozens of loops and ideas, eventually whittling them down—with the help of Max_M—to the 12 that make up this record. The Observer Effect certainly sounds like the end result of a process like this. It's full of sketches—as opposed to Kemppi's typically longer, drawn out DJ tracks—which results in a somewhat breezy listening experience despite the album's dark overtone. Kemppi's album sounds better listened to as a whole. This is a testament to the musical quality of The Observer Effect and the selection process undertaken by artist and label. Rather than returning to a few single tracks (as is usually the case with techno albums), I found myself repeatedly playing the album through completely. Many tracks aren't exactly short—half are over five minutes in length—but skipping drums and punchy, lively bass notes provide a pleasant platform for a surprisingly light-hearted one-hour cosmic set. There are a few standout moments, courtesy of the droning bass of "Locked," the heavily percussive "Never The Same" and strange keys of "Tailgating"—but they make most sense when listened to in one sitting. There are two types of techno album, and Kemppi has successfully crafted one of them. Let's see where he goes next time.
  • Tracklist
      01. Particle Spray 02. Agitated 03. Locked 04. Power Of Voltages 05. Water Lake 06. Unsung Heroes 07. 250 Days 08. Beneath The Surface 09. Wrong Turn 10. Tailgating 11. Passage 12. Never the Same