VA: Elektronische Musik–Interkontinental 5

Triple R: Friends Are Silence
MBF/My Best Friend

Remember a few years ago when Phoenecia's Brownout mystified listeners, at least until they could acclimate themselves to its bizarre wooziness? Traum's triple album set Elektronische Musik–Interkontinental 5 has a rather similar effect. Rather than being the usual straightforward collection of robust club bangers, it likewise exudes a dark and occasionally warped vibe, with many a track stripped to its skeletal core. That's not a criticism, by the way, as the collection's off-kilter futurism lends it an individuating character that separates it from the herd.

Compiled by Riley Reinhold (aka Triple R and part owner of Traum, Trapez, and MBF), the latest installment in the annual Interkontinental series starts sunnily enough with Adam Kroll's nimble groover “Stalker” but then takes a surprising ambient detour with Nathan Fake's spectral “Numb Chance.” Other pieces distance themselves almost entirely from familiar forms of techno: Gabriel Kogler digs deep to exhume a sickly mutation (“Romantisch im Westend”) while Linus Quick's trippy “Tri-State” sounds like it's emanating from some dungeon, especially when its pounding drums doomily echo. Having already lit a Traum fire with the EPs The Nectar of My Love and We Breathe the Stars Through Each Other, Ontarion Jesse Somfay maintains the standard with “Fabergé,” a jacking jitter-mix of wiry whirrs and sputter that threatens to single-handedly establish a new strain of carnival techno. Best of all, Mashcraft crafts a simple theme in “White Lines in the Blue Sky” that quickly claws its way inside your skull. In a style that recalls Oliver Hacke, Mashcraft repeats a simple yet hypnotic theme over a subtly jacking pulse, and deftly elevates the piece with a couple of well-timed pauses that build delicious tension. Elsewhere, Ortin Cam drops a surging burner in “New Found Glory” and East Germany's Kenny Leaven voices brooding themes in “Wasabi.” (Note: this review is of the 78-minute, three-disc vinyl release, which also includes cuts by Lars Wickinger, Zentex, Florian Meindel, and Process; the track order on the CD version is different and includes two additional tracks).

Reinhold also drops the double 12-inch set Friends Are Silence under his own name, though more precisely they're five club tracks he produced with friends Jorge Gebauhr, Denis Karimani (aka Remute), Emanuel Geller, and Steve Barnes (aka Process). The set begins with the jacking powerhouse “Tengo suerte esta noche” where a voice intermittently repeats the title phrase (which translates, I believe, to “I am lucky tonight”) before progressing to a steaming shuffle raver (“Six Sick Torros”) that, frankly, could've withstood a bit more development. Any dissatisfaction's immediately dispelled, however, by the second disc's trio: the exuberant, Italo-flavoured chug of “Polyester,” the Gothic electro-croak of “Beauty Needs No Wings,” and the sparkling house pulse of “Someday.”

May 2006