Martin Buttrich: Crash Test

Crash Test is a producer's album in the truest sense of the word, with Martin Buttrich ornamenting each track with sonic colour, whether it be acoustic instrument sounds or the field recordings murmur of crowd or animal noise that's sprinkled over many a track. Each of the album's eleven pieces has been crafted by Buttrich with a meticulous atention to detail (the tracks were selected from a body of work created over fifteen months in his Hannover studio and elsewhere), and the music sounds as assured and confident as one would expect from someone who's issued material on Planet E, Four:Twenty, Cocoon, Poker Flat, and Desolat (a label brought into being by Buttrich and Loco Dice) and done production work and remixes for Tori Amox, Tracey Thorne, and Timo Maas, among others. The material also bespeaks versatility in both the range of genres Buttrich tackles and the production methodologies deployed, with the producer equally comfortable operating in both analog and digital modes.

That Buttrich intends to widen the playing field is indicated by the addition of bass clarinet and a woman's French voiceover to the otherwise lightly strolling (and subtly dub-inflected) funk groove sashaying through the opening track “Tripping In The 16th” (even more jarring is the Prince-styled vocal setting, “You Got That Vibe,” that closes the set). “Back It Up” aligns itself closer to standard club fare by digging into a deep, bass-throbbing house pulse, and “You Must Be This High” strips the groove down to a breezy, light-footed house thump that Buttrich spatters with industrial found sounds and voice fragments. In the intro to “Enough Love To Hate It,” female vocals warble like stuttering thrushes before Buttrich sprinkles synth arpeggios and percussive tinkles over a spacey funk-house pulse, and his jazzier side comes to the fore during “I'm Going There One Day” when a soloing trumpet brays overtop a steamy, bass-driven house groove.

If there's any weakness to speak of, it would be that there's no one cut that towers over the rest as exceptionally strong; instead, the collection establishes an impression of all-around competence and homogeneity. In addition, a couple of tracks—“Blackouts Non-Stop” and “Stop Motion,” for instance—opt for a more atmospheric take on house music that some might find a tad too atmospheric. But even so, there's no denying the obvious care with which the album's been crafted.

May 2010