Sven Laux: Homesickness or Nostalgia

Microcosm is, without a doubt, the perfect label home for Sven Laux's first full-length Homesickness or Nostalgia. With its nine quirky tracks animated by jaunty rhythms and adorned with oddball samples and found sounds, the digital-only set possesses all of the earmarks of the New York-based imprint's style. Prior to the album, Laux issued several EPs and remixes, so it's not all that surprising to discover that the album's material is polished, even if the tracks' skeletal techno and house rhythms are relentlessly beseiged by a never-ending stream of sound fragments. Typically, a stripped-down, occasionally jacking 4/4 pulse provides a firm foundation for a colliding criss-cross of croaking voice fragments, dubby flourishes, string washes, percussive stutters, and splashes of static and grime. Laux fills every available second of “Jebediah's Liquor Store,” for example, with micro-nuts and bolts until one is almost dizzied by the incessant barrage of sound. With a thudding bass pulse giving the tune drive, “Jackson's Modern Bakery Coffee Shop” gets an infectiously funky groove on that's also so tight it avoids being derailed by the nonstop array of vocal snippets and percussive wonkiness that bombards it. In certain moments, Laux wisely gives the material a bit more room to breathe (e.g., “Old Miller's Favourite Burgers”), and the listener drowns in a little less detail as a result. In essence, he brings a personalized twist to the found-sound genre by mixing related micro-styles within a single track, such as when “Avoid the Symptoms” pulls dub, techno, and machine funk into its hyperactive orbit. Fueled by a trippy blend of mid-tempo club rhythms and artful textural interplay, Homesickness or Nostalgia (the first full-length to appear on Microcosm since label head Ezekiel Honig issued Scattered Practices in 2006) smartly straddles the two realms without expressing allegiance to one over the other.

March 2011