Grauraum: Shades
Raumklang Music

On Shades, Grauraum (who previously operated under the Hotaru Bay alias) presents fifty minutes of dark industrial electronica in the Tympanik Audio vein. Heavy in brooding atmosphere, the album is a prototypically well-crafted set of melancholy moodscaping, with synth washes, downcast melodies, noise textures, and programmed beats arranged into eight (two of them remixes) lavishly produced set-pieces. Though the Wiesbaden, Germany-based producer (real name not disclosed) played in a punk band during his teenage years and some years later in an industrial-hardcore outfit, the music he issues under the Grauraum name is anything but out-of-control, even if a few passages during “The Sleep Pt 2 (The Awakening)” are aggressive in the extreme. A bit of n5MD's emotional-electronica style also sneaks into Grauraum's material during the album's most overwrought moments (“Underneath It All” to name one).

In “Through The Childrens' Eyes,” corroded beats scrape and claw their way through damp, blackened undergrowth, with glowing melodies bringing some hint of affirmation to the downtrodden mood. “Nearly Always Meaningless” hits even harder in the way its distorted beat patterns pound and throb as dramatic synth washes arc overhead. Grauraum's final original “End of Line” closes his set on a suitably resigned note, with a few quiet moments providing welcome contrast to the heavier passages. Millipede gives that piece an “Apocalypse Waltz” remix that, if anything, plunges us deeper underground in its mix of gullotine beats and bass throbs, but the greater highlight is LPF12's seventeen-minute reimagining of “The Sleep Pt 2,” a labyrinthine take on IDM doomscaping that towers over much else on the release, including Grauraum's originals. Smothered in scab-ridden textures and powered by throbbing and flickering beats as it makes its way across still-smoldering wastelands, LPF12's track might also be likened to some diseased lab mutation desperately trying to escape its cage and making all manner of horrendous noise in its fruitless attempts to do so. In truth, there's not a whole lot on Shades we haven't heard before in any number of Tympanik Audio and n5MD releases, but Grauraum's material nevertheless positions itself at a similarly high level, and the release is almost worth having for the LPF12 remix alone.

September 2011