Anja Schneider - Lily of the Valley

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  • Anja Schneider's work should appear on Tidy Trax, not because its bangin' UK hard trance (which it certainly isn't) but because it's so neat, perfectly embodying minimal techno's mantra of maximal impact from few resources. Every element is necessary, and there is never extraneous clutter. This level of meticulousness could prove irritating, but here it's just about perfect. 'Lily of the Valley' celebrates her label Mobilee's tenth release, and also the beginning of Spring (we're a little late) and, in spite of its surgical precision, it manages to convey a sense of the warm outdoors. 'Lily of the Valley' is all percussion, a combination of short rhythmic cells tapped out on small, dead objects which captivates immediately. Below these two- to- three-note clusters a layer of bass bubbles to the surface, and hats of sand-filled egg shells vie with tin cans, plastic bottles and other beachside debris, all scrubbed clean with Perrier. Two claps alternate - one more emaciated but equally punchy - and a timid electric pulse enters, later shifting to a more suspenseful key. It marches forward like a procession of cannibals until one by one everything is removed, leaving the board blank. 'Addicted' is just as orderly, with scraped woodblock accompanying the clinical dissection of the eponymous vocal line, leaving only the stuttered consonants amid other barely discernible voiced tics. A hazy synth chord fades in and out of view beside hats beaten with a handful of chopsticks, then midway through the drums are beefed up, the voice becomes male, and mechanised wind-chimes rattle, rhythmically, in the vacuum. 'Addicted' is, marginally, the less gratifying of the two, but could still warm the coldest of minimal sets without straying into house territory. Schneider's work, and indeed much of her Mobilee roster, share many of the characteristics of Hawtin and his M_nus label, but there's considerably more to clutch on to here: it's still mechanistic and spare, but here these are positive traits, and the music glows like polished chrome.