Ancient Methods - The Jericho Records

  • Outstanding contemporary techno inspired by the Battle Of Jericho.
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  • Earlier this year, I saw Michael Wollenhaupt, AKA Ancient Methods, and Wahiba Van De Bled play live in a scrappy harbour club in Brest. I wasn't expecting such a wide range of instruments—including trombone, electric drums and guitar—or for it to work so well in a primetime techno slot. Speaking to RA recently about making music experimentally and for the dance floor, Wollenhaupt said that "it is a specific idea I need to bring to life when I do music." The Jericho Records, Wollenhaupt's debut album, delivers the best of both worlds—a striking collection of techno tracks bound by a strong underlying concept. The Battle Of Jericho, as described in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament, is the album's central theme. The trombones here stand in for the Shofars, or ram's horns, used by the Israelite army to raze the city's walls (or so the story goes). Biblical references are starting points from which Wollenhaupt and a number of collaborators—including Regis, Orphx and Prurient—create vivid compositions. The LP's narrative is laid down in three parts, or "chapters," bookended by a prologue ("Walls") and epilogue ("In Silence"). The LP oscillates mostly between intense club fare—"Twelve Stones To Divide Jordan's Sand," "Array The Troops"—and pensive passages like "The City Awakes," whose ambient intro includes the sound of clopping hooves. This constant flux lends The Jericho Records a dynamism and a sense that anything can happen next. Occasionally, The Jericho Records gets a bit too literal. The melodising of clashing and swiping blades on "Swordplay," for example, is a bit on the nose. But you could also see this as one of Wollenhaupt's strengths: his ability to translate abstract ideas into clear sonic images is what makes The Jericho Records so impressive. "Walking On Cursed Soil," the album's climax, features Prurient, whose initially whispered lyrics end up as anguished screeches. But another collaboration, the Orphx-featuring "The Seven Shofars," is the LP's emotive and musical highlight. (Wollenhaupt has previously worked with the duo as Eschaton.) In both cases we're presented with a restrained heaviness that transmits more powerfully than some of the LP's more brutal productions. Still, The Jericho Records wouldn't work as well without the bangers. The inclusion of both—and, as a result, the blurring of what should and shouldn't work on the dance floor—makes it an inspired contemporary techno album.
  • Tracklist
      01. Walls 02. Twelve Stones To Divide Jordan's Sand 03. The City Awakes 04. Treason Creeps In 05. The House Of Rahab 06. Array The Troops feat. Regis 07. The Seven Shofars feat. Orphx 08. Crack And Collapse In The Storm Of Lights 09. Swordplay 10. Omen's Duty 11. I Am Your New King feat. King Dude 12. Moonset feat. Cindytalk 13. Walking On Cursed Soil feat. Prurient 14. In Silence