A self-described 'lazy producer' from Cologne, Germany, Stefan Gubatz has done a few other things (a couple 10's, remixes, etc.) in the dub techno genre, but 'Distanz' is really his first album. The one-sheet (actually a three-sheet) that accompanied this CD was almost like a review in itself, describing each piece with commentary, but I'm not regurgitating that. I will mention that the album was the result of 'waiting room situations' (time spent stuck in airports and the like) but in spite of some ambient qualities has absolutely nothing to do with Eno's 'Music For Airports'. For one thing, there is a very active rhythmic component in the pieces of 'Distanz'. The first, 'Byte And Scratch' is mostly electronic, non-drumkit sounds, or at least electronically processed. You get hollowish flanged sounds in an engaging pattern with muffled bass pulse underneath. Rather minimal but also rather cool! The rhythm fades but the track blends right into the next, 'Cologne,' that does offer conventional drumkit sounds with a completely different rhythm. There is a dubby trip hop feel to this track (especially in the bass department), and although the basic idea remains constant, supporting elements add depth and space giving the illusion of motion and travel. Lots of use of echo too. If the last track seemed kind of dubby, 'Villa Nicht' is dub-central with a repetitive bass pattern playing the key element and other rhythmic elements and atmosphere added later. It sort of pulses like a funky heartbeat in the middle of a howling snowstorm. 'Vitamin' has a more active, snappier, upbeat rhythm, primarily electronic, or electronically processed percussion. 'Metal Worms' is on the dark, subdued, low-end side, except for the metal worms which snake in and out of the aural field. 'Offshore' is moody trip hopish nocturnal dub accented with noise pops. 'Slow On Ice' is a piece that resonated least of all the tracks on the album with me. It wasn't that slow, and I didn't get any impression of cracking ice. Maybe it's just the beat I didn't care for. 'Nord' begins with a thrumming rhythmic loop that sounds like alien machinery. Other percolating percussive elements are introduced seeming random at first but becoming more cohesive and eventually becoming the main rhythm. Synth string chords float in and out becoming all that's left by the end.
'Distanz' is a pleasant enough album. Though not exceedingly adventurous it does cover some interesting territory, and its charm might be more in not paying attention to it (absorbing it as ambient atmosphere) than intentional listening. Those who like minimal ambient dub with a smattering of techno inclinations are the most likely audience for Gubatz's excursions. Available primarily as a digital download with a limited (initially 100) amount of CD digipaks.