Various Artists – Masse Box
Why should electronic music producers be confined to writing solely for the dancefloor? For every dodgy techno ‘concept’ album, there have been a multitude of excellent projects – witness alternative (in form) releases from Regis, Surgeon and more recently Sigha and sometime Nine Inch Nails band member Alessandro Cortini over the past year. It’s heartening to see Ostgut Ton supporting this kind of thinking. After all the label has been one of the most prolific platforms for modern house and techno, so its willingness to give vent to abstract compositions that provided a soundtrack to a ballet last year is welcome.
For those who did not pick up the original release last year, it will come as a surprise to hear Marcel Fengler teasing out evocative piano shapes – together with Efdemin – as DIN on “Evolve (Prelude)” and dropping sensuous synth sweeps over tight break beats with “Evolve (Conclusion)”. Marcel Dettmann and Frank Wiedemann also surprise with “Menuett (Part 2 – Martellato) “, where dreamy synths swirl and sweep over rickety back beats, and on “Menuett (Part 3 – Spiritoso)”, all woozy effects and mechanical bird tweets.
However, the most notable contribution comes from Henrik Schwarz. The German producer’s “Balletsuite” series moves from the plucked strings and rich piano of the first piece through the twitchy guitar fret work of the “Affect Structure” version and the new wave gloom of the “I Am Not Responsible For That” take before coming to a climax with the chattering xylophones and jittery keys of “But Then I’m Different” and “When Things Are Difficult”.
There are perfectly decent, functional techno tracks included on this Box version, including the sleek, trancey pulses of DIN’s “Euphorium”, the helicopter blade percussion and saggy bass of Dettmann & Wiedemann’s club version of “Spiritoso” and the dramatic string flourishes and yearning woodwind of Schwarz’s “Unknown Touch Two”, a sort of classical music version of Ame’s “Rej”. Despite these additions, it is clear that the most impressive thing about Masse and its Box variant is that it affords artists who are too often constrained by form the opportunity to give vent to their artistic expression. To turn a well-worn maxim on its head, f**k dance, let’s art.
A1. Din – Euphorium
B1. Din – Aetas
C1. Dettmann & Wiedemann – Spiritoso (club version)
D1. Dettmann & Wiedemann – Martellato (club version)
E1. Henrik Schwarz – Lockstep
F1. Henrik Schwarz – Unknown Touch Two
1. Henrik Schwarz – Unknown Touch
2. Henrik Schwarz – Affect Structure
3. Henrik Schwarz – I Am Not Responsible For That
4. Henrik Schwarz – But When I’m Different
5. Henrik Schwarz – When Things Are Difficult
6. Henrik Schwarz – Couple Are Strong
7. Dettmann & Wiedemann – Accelerando (part 1)
8. Dettmann & Wiedemann – Martellato (part 2)
9. Dettmann & Wiedemann – Spiritoso (part 3)
10. Din – (Prelude)
11. Din – Creation
12. Din – Variation
13. Din – Oscillation
14. Din – Division
15. Din – Generation
16. Din – Conclusion