- "With additive synthesis, I can determine the spectrum in an exact, mathematic way by adding up sine waves with a certain frequency and amplitude." This is how Erik Wiegand, the German artist better known as Errorsmith, explained "additive synthesis," the production method made possible by Razor, a digital synth he developed for Native Instruments, and which shapes his own music. "I know every atom of this track," he said of "Retired Low-Level Internal Server," a cut from his new album. "For me, it's very satisfying."
Even if that description goes over your head (as it did mine), it will still ring true when you hear Superlative Fatigue, Wiegand's first LP in 13 years, which came out this month on PAN. The production quality is immaculate and ultra-crisp, full of sounds and textures as tactile as they are abstract, making for an album that's aurally dazzling all the way through. But perhaps even better than its sound is its style. The rhythms are elastic, blending elements of techno and dancehall, skidding and sputtering to a logic that is entirely Wiegand's own. The album is minimalist and avant-garde, but also rambunctious and overblown, touched with an odd sense of humor that's evident in track titles like "I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable," or in the warped vocoders on most tracks. Weird as it is at times, it's always fun and upbeat.
Each track is a carefully sculpted piece unto itself, all made from the same materials—robotic vocoders, neon synths, angular rhythms and rubbery drums. Each is distinct from the others, but together they form one larger shape, their tempos zig-zagging downwards from 133 BPM on the first track to 100 at the end. The first five tracks are a wild romp, full of the soaring motion and laser-like synths that have been in Wiegand's toolbox for years (they're what made MMM, his collaboration with Fiedel, such a hit), and made all the more off-the-wall by his dancehall-inspired drum patterns.
The album's second section takes a different tack. "Retired Low-Level Internal Server" rides a groove that's slow enough to bop your head to. "Internet Of Screws" goes off the grid, with snare hits and cascading synths that are in sync with each other but follow no clear backbeat. They speed up and slow down, somersaulting into drum fills that seem improvised and, somehow, live. The closing track, "My Party," has no kick drum, and at 100 BPM is too slow to be easily mixed into a house or techno set. But its steady claps and vocal hook—"party my party," sung in duet by two disparately pitched vocoders, à la Daft Punk's "Teachers"—make it oddly clubby (incidentally, it's the only one I've heard played out by a DJ). In addition to the titular hook, Wiegand does a bit of what could almost be described as skatting, as he does on a number of the tracks. In its odd humor and surreality, it feels like a perfect finish to the album when the whole thing suddenly goes silent as an alien voice chirps "doot doot DOOT!"
03. I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable
05. Superlative Fatigue
06. Retired Low-Level Internal Server
07. Internet Of Screws
08. My Party