DJ Phono: Welcome To Wherever You're Not

Having adopted a name like DJ Phono, one expects Henning Besser 's album to bolt from the gate with a rave-ready onslaught of beats and build-ups. Soundly squashing expectations, Welcome To Wherever You're Not instead opens with not one but two downtempo pieces one might be more tempted to label ambient than anything dancefloor-related. “*” begins the set with five quietly pulsating minutes of tinklings pianos and muffled horns, while “Paper Aeroplane” is like a replay of the first track but with field recording noises added to its electric pianos. When beats do appear for the first time, in the third piece, “Quiz,” they do so in the service of a gently breezy setting of crystalline keyboard textures and swaying rhythms that would sound more natural being played at a beachside patio than dark, sweaty club. And when that easy listening vibe carries over into “La Rencontre,” one would be forgiven for imagining DJ Phono's elegantly reserved album to be more like the kind of release issued by Karaoke Kalk than Diynamic. But DJ Phono appears to have sequenced the album so that its twelve tracks deliberately evolve beyond its laid-back atmospheric beginnings into a more forceful set of rhythm-based pieces. One could even go so far as to trace the seventy-six-minute album's incremental ascent as it moves from one track to the next, with each one digging a little bit deeper into its groove and the music growing more expansive in the process.

So for those desirous of dancefloor-related intensity, patience is rewarded with the arrival of clubbier fare such as “Gone,” which insistently pulsates for seven transporting minutes, and the oddly titled yet slinky bass-stepper “Knarhcslheuk Mi Ttinhcsfua Hcon Ebah Hci.” Even better is “Schuhe und Buecher,” eight sleek and slow-burning minutes of Kompakt-styled melodic techno, while “Soll ich ein Loch Graben?” comes closest to matching the club-raver template as it works up a sweaty lather with an intense, four-minute buildup before bringing the kick drum and hi-hats in for added heft and drive when the climb is undertaken a second time. Though “Your Name” generally perpetuates the 4/4 attack of the preceding cuts, it's at this stage that Welcome To Wherever You're Not initiates its descent, with Besser gradually easing the listener down from the peak of “Soll ich ein Loch Graben?” until “... .--. ..- .-.” takes us out with a brooding piano-laced coda.

August 2011