Joseph Auer: Freo
Symbolic Interaction

There's precious little information accompanying Joseph Auer's Freo release aside from a “prime-quality minimal ambient techno” description that's about as succinct as the CD's forty-one-minute running time. We do know that Auer was born in Chicago and schooled in York, England and Newport, Wales but now lives with his family (wife Maiko and their “precocious five-year-old Opera-loving” daughter Maiya Alexandra Takasaki-Auer) in Kunitachi-shi, Tokyo, Japan and works as an IT Software Engineer in Unix Legacy Systems Administration. Also well-known for his Boltfish recordings, Auer's been recording and producing music since 1992 so he's clearly an extremely experienced practitioner of the electronic art by now.

Strangely enough, the brief description accompanying Freo misses the mark—on one count, at least—by failing to acknowledge the music's Detroit connection. The eight future-techno tracks Auer's crafted for the album are sleek in the extreme, and often magnificent in their iridescent character. In “F-Line,” radiant streams of glistening synths billow while a hefty bottom end kicks up a storm of midtempo techno-funk. “AirCycle” plunges the listener into a huge Basic Channel reservoir of dubby keyboard haze, and then propels him/her along with a thrusting 4/4 pulse and deep bass throb. But as strong as they are, both cuts seem almost like warm-ups when the glorious “Fremantle Groove,” perhaps the album's most beautiful example of Auer's Detroit-inflected techno-IDM fusion, rolls into view. Auer also takes us on a brief tour of a mechano wonderland in “Exp.” before exiting with the exotic, down-under sweep of “PerthSkyline (VIP Mix).” As mentioned, Freo's a succinct statement but an appealing one nevertheless. Its lack of bloat certainly makes a strong case for brevity and economy as guiding principles.

April 2009