- Techno loops par excellence.
- Earlier this year, Matt Unicomb wrote about what makes the perfect loop. "You want it to sound loopy but not too monotonous," K-HAND told him. "You can run a four-on-the-floor kick for three minutes and call that a track, but people are going to wonder what's going on." It takes a special kind of artist like K-HAND, or, say, Robert Hood, to make a brusque, repetitive tool pop off just right. Roger Semsroth is another talent. As Sleeparchive, he makes brutally effective techno tracks with just a few elements, a reduced approach that reached a new extreme with his A Man Dies In The Street EP series in 2012. Since then, he's explored his roots in EBM, IDM and ambient over a series of self-released records (since removed from Bandcamp), before landing back on Tresor with last year's Revised Recordings EP—three tracks of hard, precise loop techno. Now he returns with an album of the stuff.
A browse through the tracklist reveals the usual clichéd, utilitarian single-word titles: "Dust," "Needle," "Leave" and so forth. But Semsroth's choices are unusually illustrative, and in music as stripped-down as this, any crumb of context helps illuminate the tracks. Take "Concrete," the album's longest and toughest track, an unruly loop that feels like it's moving against the ground, with a rough, grinding roar like a cement mixer. Or "Glass," made from chimes that sound like marbles knocking into each other. The other great thing about Semsroth's loops here is the sheer strangeness of them. They are cut into jagged shapes or bent at weird angles, so they aren't just four-to-the-floor thumpers. Caustic but oddly funky, they recall early UK techno classics like Regis's Gymnastics.
Many Sleeparchive records, even 2006's austere Hospital Tracks, had diversions away from grubby, '90s-style techno. Trust makes no such concession: every track is a loop, from the rough bounce of the opener "Needle" to the frenzied strings of the closing title track. There are no breakdowns, left turns or switch-ups, except for the bass disappearing and reappearing at opportune intervals. This might sound boring, but each piece is so well-built that you don't need anymore than the fundamentals. There are locked grooves in the middle of the album, in typical Sleeparchive fashion and even they're impressive. "Loop 02," an atmospheric 29 seconds of subaquatic sonar pings, might be one of the most appealing Sleeparchive tracks ever made.
The intricacy of Semsroth's approach is most apparent on the one-two punch of "Fence" and "Peccant," which are almost two versions of one track. Both feature rough, harsh string motifs that play nearly the same melody, though "Fence" sounds modern and dub techno-influenced where "Peccant" is saddled with a harder kick drum and some crowd-pleasing bassline work. There isn't that much difference between the two. But few techno artists have as much command of subtlety as Sleeparchive.
06. Loop 1
07. Loop 2