- Two distinctive techno artists show their broad tastes in head-scraping experimental music.
- Air Texture compilations are curated by dance music producers who make "experimental music a part of their process—a yang to their Berghain bangers," in the words of James Healy, who runs the label. For Air Texture's seventh edition he's invited Rrose and Silent Servant, two artists who have drawn extensively from outside techno's narrow confines to make some of its influential material in recent history. Silent Servant, formerly of the Sandwell District collective, has been instrumental in the rediscovery of '80s-tinged EBM and new wave sounds on techno dance floors over the last decade. Meanwhile, as Rrose, Seth Horvitz has created one of modern techno's most distinctive musical personas, which incorporates minimalist ideals and hi-tech sound design.
The compilation comes in two distinct halves. As you'd expect from Rrose, their side is cohesive and flowing, with an impressive list of contributors sticking to Horvitz's clear instructions that they focus on "sounds, spaces and drones" over easily identifiable "beats" and "songs."' Experimental composers like Laetitia Sonami, Maggi Payne and Charlemagne Palestine lay the foundations with highly abstract drone tracks, providing interesting insight into the inspiration behind the Rrose project. Of the drone tracks, Abul Mogard's "Stumbling Oscillations" is a haunting, subtly beautiful highlight.
Some of the most interesting tracks come from producers less known for drone music, like Laurel Halo's "Dies Ist Ein"—sharper and more metallic than what's around it, but coated in warm, psychedelic afterglow. On the delicate "Raw Pyrit," Lucretia Dalt trades meandering drones for a disjointed structure heavy on silence. The tracks by Anthony Child (AKA Surgeon) and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe are almost impenetrably weird experiments. Rrose's curatorial touch shines, balancing the challenging and the immersive.
Silent Servant's tracks seem more drawn from miscellaneous areas, but that's no bad thing. Beatless music forms the backbone, but it's got a darker, tougher edge, as on Maŕa's "Rebellion" or Phase Fatale's schlock-horror techno breakdown "Nightmare in LA." As you might expect, the influence of EBM and new wave is tangible, particularly on the chugging "Afterlife" by June and An-i, Id Meridian's guitar-driven "Guilty and Pure" and on Silent Servant's "New World." It's a "mixed bag," as Mendez himself writes about the selection, a collection informed by personal connections rather than aesthetic choices.
Plenty of tracks stand apart from the rest, like Luke Slater's "When It Twists"—a break-driven downtempo track, or Ascetic House member JS Aurelius's angsty, noisy "Complex Spectral Necr0scillator." Function is on top form with the recently released "Zahlensender," a swirling, spacious interlude in the style of "Voiceprint," the classic first track of his Incubation LP. These contrasting approaches reflect the artist's different temperaments. One half is compiled by a producer with a clearly defined aesthetic; the other by someone whose taste in music is an intriguing patchwork.
Disc 1: Rrose
01. Anthony Child - Forced Compliance Behavior, Decision-Making And Effort
02. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - 8th Continent In 5 Dimensions
03. Maggi Payne - In The Night Sky
04. Lucrecia Dalt - Raw Pyrit
05. Rrose and James Fei - For Bass Clarinet 8.97 (Rrose Version)
06. Ron Morelli - Psychic Harms Of Economic Deprivation
07. Laurel Halo - Dies Ist Ein
08. Octo Octa - Hallway Visions
09. Abul Mogard - Stumbling Oscillations
10. AGF - HUM-iliTY
11. Laetitia Sonami - Migration 1978 (excerpt)
12. Charlemagne Palestine - drruuhhnnn innn duhh mooooohhnnn
Disc 2: Silent Servant
01. Nen - 4R3
02. Luke Slater - When It Twists
03. Maŕa - Rebellion
04. Not Waving - Human Disfunction
05. Pod Blotz - Volatile Stillness
06. Silent Servant - New World
07. JS Aurelius - Complex Spectral Necr0scillator
08. Id Meridian - Guilty And Pure
09. DVA DAMAS - Dance Song (This Is Not A)
10. Collin Gorman Weiland - Cathodic Heart
11. Phase Fatale - Nightmare in LA
12. Hive Mind - Golden Digest
13. June and An-i - Afterlife
14. Function - Zahlensender (ssb)