Cosmin TRG: Gordian
50 Weapons

Like many a contemporary electronic music release, Cosmin Nicolae's sophomore album Gordian can't be faulted on production grounds. On the fifty-three-minute release, the Romanian and currently Berlin-based producer directs no small amount of attention to fashioning high-energy grooves that carry with them all manner of intricate percussive and textural detail. Gordian is, however, lean on melody, and it's this that ends up making the release less satisfying than it otherwise might be.

“New Structures For Loving” opens the collection promisingly in crowning a delightfully slinky house pulse with a simple yet effective eight-note theme, and enhancing both with liberal bits of textural detail. The title track perpetuates the approach in coupling its rambunctious groove with warbly electronic effects, chordal stabs, and industrial smears; the mid-song breakdown and gradual rebuild is a nice touch, too. But, two songs into the release, one already can hear the shift in emphasis on groove and atmosphere settling in. Cosmin TRG is hardly the first producer to make such a move—techno is, after all, about rhythm fundamentally, and much of the Chain Reaction catalogue, for example, is predicated on such a focus (true to form, the rhythm track in Gordian's “Desire is Sovereign” exudes a rather bullish, Fluxion-styled kind of propulsiveness)—but, stretched over the entirety of a full-length, the modicum of melodic content becomes more noticeable. The muscular groove powering “Semipresent,” for instance, takes care of the bottom-end handsomely, but the melodic dimension amounts to little more than a naggingly repetitive two-note fragment.

Having said that, it's hard to deny the visceral impact of the techno banger “Vertigo,” and sometimes sound design alone is enough, as the dubbed-out “Noise Code” illustrates when it sprinkles its hiss-drenched pulse with bleepy accents and percussion. Captivating it most assuredly is, and at such moments Nicolae is able to get away with downplaying his material's melodic side when the atmospheric details are so rich and plentiful.

April 2013