Music Reviews

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Artist: Dirk Geiger (@)
Title: Autumn Fields
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Dirk Geiger, from Rottenburg Germany may not be a familiar name to those in the U.S. interested in IDM glitch ambient electronica, but in Europe I'm sure he is as he is the head of German label Raumklang Music, and also a member of the experimental electronic industrial band Kraftmaschine, among other things. Obviously Geiger is no newcomer, although I get the impression 'Autumn Fields' might be his first solo outing.

There are some very nice things, and also some unsettling things on 'Autumn Fields,' an album of ambient glitchy IDM electronica, a style that I seem to be running into more and more of at late with new releases, especially from Tympanik. The album opens up well enough with 'Gewitterregen,' with a thunderstorm and moody piano to set the tone. 'Autumn Life' brings in the ambience of automobiles on wet pavement, some placid Boards of Canada style synth-work, ambient voices of children (playground?), something that sounds like a repeating dopplerized horn in the distance, and this annoying glitch repeating sound of a stylus on record on a turntable that has reached the end but continues to skip. If it wasn't for that one sonic element, this would have been a pretty enjoyable piece. That's what I mean by 'unsettling'. That glitchy turntable effect comes and goes, and versus the music, it is arrhythmic, which makes it all the more annoying. I suppose the artist something in mind when he used it, but for me it seemed out of place.

'Noise Format' is good descriptive title for the next track as little buzzes, whirrs, bursts of white noise, cut up voices and radio samples, and other sonic effluvia combine for what sounds like alien shortwave radio tuning. Eventually an off-kilter percussion track emerges intermittently with other glitch elements and a hollow bellish drone playing against it. Interesting in an experimental way, but I thought it went on a bit too long. 'Night in Haskovo' begins with some deep, somnambulistic ambience with indistinct voices steeped in underground reverb before a percussion track is established. Geiger's rhythms aren't your typical fare; they're a bit askew, and that's one of the things that make this artist's music different. He's willing to take risks.

'Botanic Garden' juxtaposes low rumbling with ambient sounds of birds, footsteps, and glitchy noises, before a junglesque talking drum rhythm emerges. Minimal but effective synth carries the melodic element. It is interesting the way it morphs over time in the piece. 'Minus 10' uses echoed snippets of voices, high ringing tones and low percussion rhythm with a repeating hollowish bass pattern to propel it. The rhythm is steady while other incidental elements drift in and out, until the rhythm disappears towards the end. 'Winter Senses' is comprised of ambient roadway, gentle sequenced synth, string pads, low drone tones, high bellish tones, and other sonic elements from which a semi-glitch rhythm emerges. Ah, I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. There are parts of this I really like a lot. There is a part where the bellish sound plays against the low bassy part which is really cool. Nothing quite stays the same in the piece though as there is constant change. Still, it has a good flow.

'Overhead Projection' brings in the beat a bit more quickly than some of the other pieces on 'Autumn Fields,' still employing outdoor ambiences along with some brooding synths. The beat work on this one is the closest to drum kit percussion yet, but nothing you'd be inclined to dance too. Nice track. 'Itch Glitch' begins with ambient voices and atmosphere followed quickly by a glitch rhythm, which goes on a while, then stops and changes for a more tribal pattern. One thing I've noticed about Geiger's music is how he likes to play certain elements off each other that you wouldn't ordinarily find combined. A heavy truck passing by; heavenly sounding synths; glitchy rhythm patterns; tribal drums; it makes you change your musical perceptions. Not everyone is going to like this, but real IDM/ambient freaks are going to find it stimulating and challenging.

The last two tracks are remixes of previous tracks on the album; Svart1's 'Night in Haskovo,' and Access to Arasaka's 'Overhead Projection.' (I'll be getting to a review for Access to Arasaka's CD soon.) 'Night in Haskovo' sounds even darker, stranger and more unworldly in this mix. I'm really liking it a lot. The percussion is very different, a low lower and somewhat smoother, less glitchy and disjunct. 'Overhead Projection' bears little resemblance to the original, although it uses some of the elements, it is even darker still. The work on this track is sort of a foreshadowing of just how potent Access to Arasaka is in the genre. My only complaint is that it was too brief!

Although I wasn't wild about everything on the album, Geiger's 'Autumn Fields' is still an interesting excursion in ambient glitch electronica, and there is enough that is provocative about it that will stand up to repeated listenings, and challenge you a bit in the process.



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