Joseph Auer: Nu Age

Cheju: Waiting for Tomorrow
Distance Noise

Seventy-six minutes of widescreen, iridescent music dressed up in the pristine, gleaming textures of classic Detroit techno and awash in percolating beats and radiant synthesizers, Nu Age is the latest “melodic techno” chapter in Rednetic co-founder Joseph Auer's ongoing story. Synthetic in the extreme, grandiose tracks like the aptly-titled “Awake Into a New World,” “Teleport,” and “Love Always” come across like advertisements trumpeting hope and promise for a new era. Representative of the album's style, “Doppler Effect Shift” is also a particularly epic and glorious example. Buoyed by a mid-tempo bass drum pulse, the ten-minute track takes the listener on a galaxy tour where surging banks of synthesizers resound and hyperactive percussive elements weave themselves into lighter-than-air rhythm patterns. While much of the album is serene in character, some tracks, such as the space age tribal rumbler “Visions of Tokyo,” hit harder, and traces of a Chicago house style can be heard seeping into the material too. None of the tracks have “meaning” in any topical sense but expecting as much would be misguided; Auer's music is about the beauty of instrumental techno full stop, and the material's uplifting spirit exemplifies the sincere affection the Chicago-born producer (currently residing in Kunitachi-shi, Tokyo with his wife and daughter and working as a Unix Legacy Systems Administrator in Shibuya) has for the genre. Calling Nu Age lush hardly does justice to the music's vibrancy but it's a start.

In addition to being frequent Boltfish contributors, Auer and Boltfish co-founder Wil Bolton (aka Cheju) share common musical ground: both emphasize the melodic and atmospheric dimensions in their music and typically opt for a clean and smoothly polished sound. But there are differences too: while Auer's disc is rooted in techno, Bolton allows room for funk and hip-hop in his Waiting for Tomorrow and also makes extensive use of processed electric guitar, piano, and glockenspiel in its tracks; the album is also, on the whole, a bit more languorous and less uptempo than Auer's. With its slow and stately weave of synthesizer and glockenspiel melodies, “Loom” showcases the Cheju sound at its most somber and beautiful, while “Unfold” anchors layers of electric guitars with a subtly swinging hip-hop feel. “Rose Window” contrasts keyboard melodies that chime so brightly they resemble a harpsichord's and a head-nodding beat pattern that Bolton dirties up with a thin coating of grime. Rather unexpectedly for a Cheju track, the desert twang of electric guitars occupies center stage during the opening minutes of “Neon Drift” before tinkling melodies, brooding electronic ambiance, and shuffling breakbeats join in too. As usual, the UK-based producer's music is never anything less than elegant, and Cheju devotees will find ample evidence on the fifty-minute release of Bolton's trademark synthetic warmth.

September 2009