Robert Lippok: Redsuperstructure

Though it might just be a matter of timing, the recent release of albums by Vladislav Delay and Robert Lippok suggests that Carsten Nicolai, Olaf Bender, and Frank Bretschneider are purposefully opening up the range of music associated with their Raster-Noton imprint—a good thing, in my opinion, in that doing so signifies growth and an embrace of new stylistic possibilities. Though Redsuperstructure is Lippok's first solo full-length release since 2004's Falling Into Komëit (Monika Enterprise) and a collaboration with Barbara Morgenstern called Tesri that followed a year later, much of his time and energy has gone into his role as a member of To Rococo Rot, whose last album, Speculation, appeared in 2010.

Redsuperstructure came into being in an unusual way, having started out as a September 2010 live set presented at the Raster-Noton Electric Campfire at the Villa Massimo that Lippok, at the bequest of the label's associates, subsequently re-recorded for formal release. The album's lean forty-minute duration reflects Lippok's direct and unfussy approach; more precisely, all of the album's tracks are five minutes or less with one exception, the fourteen-minute closer “Daylightastronomy.” It's interesting that the release date of Redsuperstructure pretty much coincides with that of Vantaa, Sasu Ripatti's own Vladislav Delay release on Raster-Noton, given how much Redsuperstructure sounds, in a track such as “Nycycle,” for instance, like the kind of thing Ripatti conceivably might release were he to re-appear on Raster-Noton under the Luomo alias.

In illuminating its ambient design with controlled bursts of energy, the auspicious overture “Unfold” serves notice that Redsuperstructure's ride will be vivid and ear-catching. By design it's a restrained scene-setter that's overshadowed by the insistent pulsing of “Inphase,” a snappy slice of micro-house that draws as much upon electronic dance music as it does the marimba-laden patterning of a Steve Reich composition. It's here that the cerebral aesthetic and metronomic rhythmning characteristic of a prototypical Raster-Noton release is expanded upon by the infusion of a To Rococo Rot-styled krautrock influence. The third piece, “Sugarcubes,” elevates the release even more in twisting a hammering pulse to dizzying effect via the addition of distorted synthetic squalls. That the track's mutant future-funk could as easily pass for the handiwork of Alva Noto as Lippok says much about its arresting design. “Whitesuperstructure” perpetuates the future-techno style of “Sugarcubes,” though less arrestingly, while “Slowdancingform” and “Ultrared” are mildly engaging atmospheric vignettes—not filler necessarily but less memorable than the album's strongest pieces.

Considerably more substantial by comparison, “Daylightastronomy” drapes flickering accents and muffled percussive flourishes across a speckled energy field of drone pulsations. Harp player Beatrice Martini also contributes to the piece, with the harp's plucks drawn into the vibrant soundscape Lippok pulls together from a variety of reverberant sounds. The taut rhythmic structures of the shorter tracks are absent in this long-form meditation, making “Daylightastronomy” seem rather like a piece that's snuck in from a different recording altogether, though, in its defence, one could argue that it adds contrast to Redsuperstructure. Certainly the sounds of field recordings-derived thunder, rain, and bird calls that end “Daylightastronomy” are far removed from the dancefloor-oriented “Sugarcubes” and “Inphase.”

February 2012