- The album is dying. Or so they say. Sales are down; customers are buying individual tracks from iTunes; torrent feeds are reducing revenues and Spotify seems set to change things again. Artists are suggesting a reinvention of the format, with some suggesting that "an ongoing blurt of ceaseless creative production" is the way forward.
But if evidence for the continuing importance of the album were needed, you need look no further than Exercise One's debut long-player. Marco Freivogel and Ingo Gansera have put together a diverse collection of tracks worthy of giving the format the time it deserves: 50 minutes spent with In Cars We Rust is time well spent, but more importantly it's necessary. Given the time and space, Exercise One play around, test their boundaries and try things not possible in the club.
From the funk infused, electro ambient spatial sounds of "Circeo" to the dark, brittle techno of "Sleeper" and "What You Say," In Cars We Rust develops in unpredictable ways. It's not primarily dance floor material—not in a classic way. The lush, saturated, summer-inducing chords of "1994" are beautiful, light and a world away from the heavy, unstable, foghorn building minimalness of "Drunken Tinman." The dubby vocal-based grooves of "No News Today," meanwhile, take things in an entirely different direction, slowed down, deep and soulful.
Played in one sitting, the movement from one period-referencing track to another is evident: The duo go from dub rhythms to old-school, stripped back techno into breakbeats without losing their trademark complexity and elemental sounds. A few duds not withstanding ("It Is Happening Again" sits ploddingly amongst the more refined, tighter offerings on this album), the duo's ear for tight loops, repeating in a constantly varying fashion keep you interested, engaged and surprised.
Listening back to their RA podcast from January 2007, seeing them live, then listening to this album, you hear three different acts: Live, they drop it hard, tight and it's all about dancing, whilst their earlier material (2006's Flight Cancelled, for instance) is clickier, bleepier, altogether more minimal. This album, however, crosses boundaries, moves between sounds and uses the format to its full extent. The album is dead? Not quite.
03. It Is Happening Again
05. The Drunken Tinman
06. Good Kid
07. No News Today
09. What You Say
10. Don´t Slip
11. Just Not!