- Efdemin uses old experimental instruments to create striking new sounds.
- Monophonie debuted as a performance in Berlin back in 2017. It was the beginning of Phillip Sollmann's journey to combine the avant-garde and Neue Musik with techno. Last year, Sollmann (AKA Efdemin) completed that mission with New Atlantis, and now the recorded version of Monophonie offers a look at the experimentation that went into it. Monophonie is a worthy document on its own. While it's an anomaly in Sollmann's catalogue, it carries his spirit of meditative and compositional elegance as well as any Efdemin record.
For Monophonie, Sollmann used an assortment of instruments from scientists and sound artists like Harry Bertoia, Harry Partch and the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz, whose work was essential not only in creating previously unheard sounds but also understanding how tones and resonances work. All three artists made acoustic devices that created otherworldly sounds—instruments that made microtones, hums and braying reverberations instead of notes.
The sturdy backbone of techno and the droning beat of Krautrock inform Monophonie and the instruments more than fit the bill. Tracks like "Rara," with its heavy drum beat and wobbly notes, might fool you for a straight-up techno track. Monophonie is at its best when it's trying to be nothing but itself: purely new, unprecedented, joyous music. The contradiction of the LP is that it uses extremely old instruments to make music that feels exceptionally novel. The staccato chirping and hurdy-gurdy like tones of "Motor"—the album's 11-minute centrepiece—are familiar, but the way they come together into one gorgeous hum before disintegrating into discrete Reichian patterns is breathtaking. Other tracks, like "Stutter," have a melodic tenderness and meditative pace that might remind you of Shackleton with their mix of shiny modernity and esoteric, ritualistic undertones.
Monophonie is a peek under the hood, an essential part of understanding what goes into Efdemin's timeless, constantly improving style of techno. Rather than techno going academic or avant-garde, this is Sollmann forging new music using old, visionary instruments whose potential still remains untapped. It doesn't fit into any mould. If there's anything more techno than that, well, I haven't heard it.
08. U / O