Out To Lunch, Lowtec’s original label project, was a shining bastion for the alternative creatives that hovered on the fringes of the European minimal boom in the early ‘00s. In a style that has been concurrently carried through for the rest of his career, Jens Kuhn instinctively guided himself towards a different kind of reduced weirdness. Without needing to resort to the clinical mathematics of glitch and sidestepping the temptation towards cartoonish surreality, the Lowtec style has continued to be a rare and precious thing in the realms of house and techno that yearn for more than the lowest common denominator. After the label paused operations in 2005, Lowtec admittedly hit his stride in terms of profile, thanks to his part in the Workshop phenomenon and then by proxy appearing on Nonplus and breaking through to a much wider audience.
When earlier in 2015 a new release emerged from the hitherto unknown The Hangout Project, it was undoubtedly a cause for celebration amongst fans of the label. Questions still linger about who was actually responsible for the music, and many could fairly believe it to be Kuhn himself, but then the same could be said of this next EP from Black Point. As it happens, the credited James Cook turns out to be a US producer who previously appeared on Greta Cottage Workshop under his own name. It’s just that he’s be able to make just the right kind of gently freaky, hugely atmospheric house music good enough to be credited to Kuhn himself.
The chord stabs on “Mythic” certainly have that knack of sounding classic, or even anthemic, whilst being utterly understated at the same time, and that must in some way be credited to the surroundings. The beat is so restrained and so considered you can hear the finger click flutters around this anchoring riff, and delicate daubs of lead synth blot overhead in a melodic formation that perfects the notion of melancholia. “Black Point” meanwhile burrows down into a moody, meditative headspace thanks to some looming low end percussion and a slow burning techno intensity. Even if the track is far from a full throttle Detroit cut, there is an intent and surefootedness about the rhythm that send it in that direction. The audacious meltdown to an utterly stirring string refrain at the end of the track makes for a perfect unexpected sweetener.
“Vespers” too finds solace in lingering reverb tails, reflective chiming refrains and a simmering beat, capturing a sentimental Sunday mood that sits comfortably next to its predecessors even if it packs a little less shock factor. “Give Up” meanwhile rounds the EP out in a more unexpected style with a mark up in tempo and a greater emphasis placed on the drums. Here they fall in snaking, fractured electro formations while the satisfying spread of tonal and textural sounds scatter around in a wonderful flurry of winsome electronica.
It’s just the kind of character laden-music you expect from Out To Lunch, and anything Lowtec is involved with, striking just the right note to result in the kind of electronic music you really can enjoy in any situation. It may be an odd place that these affiliated works exist in, but it’s far more interesting and emotionally rewarding than anywhere normal.
A2. Black Point
B2. Give Up