- "I throw it in Granulator I and start playing with it." This is how Susanne Kirchmayr, better known as Electric Indigo, has begun many of her projects in the last few years: taking vocal samples and abstracting them using Robert Henke's free plug-in for granular synthesis, Granulator. With newly generated sounds, Kirchmayr builds complex structures that nod to techno but belong to the avant-garde.
The material for Kirchmayr's debut LP, 5 1 1 5 9 3, on Henke's Imbalance Computer Music, is mostly drawn from her concerts over the last six years, and it bears an obsession with advanced sound design. The atmospheres are restrained and industrial, but within them she constructs fascinating depths of field. On "Excursion," for example, spectral static is panned around the head, while abstract bass sounds seem to sink underfoot. "Observations" sounds like it has field recordings from an abandoned factory—perhaps sand, dripping water, glass shards kicked across a dirty floor. But it's all computer generated by Kirchmayr, who uses production software as an architectural tool.
While the music on 5 1 1 5 9 3 starts out abstract, it generally builds towards a kind of heavy yet reduced techno. These tracks are no less rigorously detailed, but with their seismic bass and angular drum patterns you could imagine them beyond the context of installation art. (See Fiedel's recent Berghain 08 mix, where Kirchmayr's unusual rhythmic details serve as the inquisitive opener.) Ominous and patient, "4.31 Hz" and "Ntandathu" could also start sets with intelligent drama. "Sept" might not make it to the club floor, but it's certainly techno-minded, with stumbling rhythms that carve out one of the album's strangest shapes.
This tendency towards avant-garde, naturally, means that 5 1 1 5 9 3 is not always an easy listen. Kirchmayr's music is driven by concept and process, which doesn't always go hand-in-hand with emotional pull. Take the beatless tracks "The Landing" and "Second Organ." Both are incredibly sculpted, with barren landscapes that morph like a subtle change in aperture. Interesting as they are, their moods are listless and unmoving. 5 1 1 5 9 3's studiousness can, at times, threaten a cold uniformity.
Then again, Kirchmayr once said, "I don't want to convey messages. That's not my thing … But I've always liked numbers." While this is clear from each track's meticulous construction, on "Trois" it's more literal. Built from samples of friends counting, Kirchmayr generates crystalline sounds and obscured vocal chops, assembling them into an eccentric club cut. Inventive ideas like this bring numbers to life.
03. The Landing
05. Darcy In Paradise
07. Second Organ
08. 4.31 Hz
09. Sept (Album Version)