Dominik Eulberg: Heimische Gefilde

Rare for a ‘techno' album, Dominik Eulberg's Heimische Gefilde (translation: ‘Native Habitat') is a concept album which pairs ten spoken word introductions with eleven full-fledged musical pieces. Taking off from the ‘wild-life techno' style of his Flora & Fauna debut, Eulberg's latest release reveals the huge impact nature sounds have had upon his music-making. In the interludes, Eulberg takes the listener on an ‘acoustic walk' through his personal woodland and its assortment of birds (Spotted Woodpecker, Eagle Owl, Great Northern Diver, Nightingale, Tawny Owl) and insects (Red Wood Ant, Field Cricket, Spruce Bark Beetle). The interludes set the stage for the tracks that follow, such that a description of the Yellow-Bellied Toad segues into the rollicking swizzle and guttural croak of “Die Rotbauchunken vom Tegernsee” (“The Fire-Bellied Toad from the Tegernsee”). Still, though the introductory settings are informative, non-German-speaking listeners may find that, once past the initial run-through, they start to resemble intrusive commercials that arrest an otherwise splendid program's flow. They hardly negate the album, however, as without them, the eleven cuts still total almost seventy minutes.

The musical tracks are uniformly strong and coolly propulsive, all of them meticulously constructed and refined exemplars of contemporary techno artistry, and varied too, with Eulberg individuating them with an occasional voice sample (“I think you're afraid of letting go / And this is starting to excite me” in “Afraid of Seeing Stars?”), drum solo spotlight (“Die Rotbauchunken vom Tegernsee”), and acid devilry (“Gasthof “Zum satten Bass””). “Der Hecht im Karpfenteich” (“The Pike in the Carp Pond”) even pairs Theremin warble with a singing synth figure one might have heard in “Autobahn” while “Die Alpenstrandläufer von Spiekeroog,” with its sprightly melodies, romping bass, and snappy strut, sounds especially sweet. There's also bouncy microhouse (“Adler”), an incandescent raver (“Der Buchdrucker”), and a churning banger graced with a chiming firefly melody and percussive flourishes (“Björn Borkenkäfer”). Album closer “Stelldichein des Westerwälder Vogelchores” (“Tryst of the Westerwälder Bird Choir”) pushes the concept to its logical extreme with Eulberg assembling the ‘acoustic' techno track's bass drum, hi-hats, snare, and percussion entirely from bird sounds (Great Bittern, Chiffchaff, Rook, Black Woodpecker, etc.). 'Ornithological techno,' anyone?

April 2007