Jas Shaw - Sollbruchstelle I-III

  • The Simian Mobile Disco member, forced into pandemic isolation due to a health condition, emerges with a startlingly intimate ambient record.
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  • There is nuance to the phrase "breaking point," or, in German, Sollbruchstelle. Though it can refer to the point at which something is about to give—a system stretched to its limits or a person run down to the bone—it's also used to indicate the juncture at which something is intended to crumble. Think of the indented grid of a bar of chocolate or that little ridge in the middle of a coronavirus test swab. The phrase can apply to a moment of chaos or careful planning. This is the tension that underpins Jas Shaw's Sollbruchstelle I-III, an album that compiles his three 2021 EPs. Shaw's last LP, 2019's Exquisite Cops was a triumphant reminder of the Simian Mobile Disco member's talents as a fiercely inventive techno producer. On Sollbruchstelle I-III he builds worlds with beatless synth compositions, expanding on the ideas behind his 2020 record Klavier, which explored minimalism via prepared piano. With this latest LP, Shaw earns the title of composer, not just producer. Jas Shaw lives with the cell disorder AL amyloidosis, meaning that his antibody-producing cells don't work in the way that they're supposed to. To mitigate the danger of the coronavirus pandemic, Shaw has spent the past year or so in near-total isolation, living, eating, sleeping and working in the same room. The range of sentiments expressed on Sollbruchstelle I-III are the product of a year alone, each idea and feeling explored with a prolonged intimacy. The album starts out tranquil with the spacious drones of "Heavenvetica," but the strident lead line on "The Revenge Of Noise On Harmony" and pensive melodies of "You Can See His Lips Moving" venture from soothing moods to something more pensive and ominous. Over the course of the album's 21 tracks, Shaw explored a range of emotions via delicate abstractions that manage to be deeply affecting. During this bizarre period, Shaw seems to have found solace in small, intricate movements. More minimalist than ambient tracks like "Ask For Me Again" or the album closer "Made Not To Fade" are muted studies in perpetual motion, with neoclassical-style motifs that sway and gently morph to different registers and instruments. Other tracks eschew minimalist prettiness. "Felt Compute, Might Delete" surfs rapidfire arpeggios for a Komische-style sense of wonder while "I Wig On A Cone" experiments with atonal synth work. In Shaw's hands, ambient pieces function more like sonic fractals than furniture music. Rather than cracking under the despair of solitude, on Sollbruchstelle, Shaw looks within, unlocking a startling and intimate creativity.
  • Tracklist
      Sollbruchstelle I: Become The Scenic Route 01. Håller Tummana 02. Heavenvetica 03. An Argument That Takes More Than Five Minutes 04. Ask For Me Again 05. Sollbruchstelle 06. It Turns Into A She 07. Become The Scenic Route Sollbruchstelle II: Absent And Incorrect 01. The Revenge Of Noise On Harmony 02. Felt Compute, Might Delete 03. I Wig On A Cone 04. Caution Your Blast 05. An Uncertain Ratio 06. Noise Will Be Noise 07. Absent And Incorrect Sollbruchstelle III: Snacks Of Carelessness 01. Rhyme Undisturbed 02. Snacks Of Carelessness 03. A Man With Two Watches 04. Norwegian Blue 05. You Can See His Lips Moving 06. Double Stop 07. Made Not To Fade