Németh: Film
Thrill Jockey

Though perhaps better known as a member of Austrian electroacoustic trio Radian (and Lokai), Stefan Németh has also made a name for himself in experimental circles with soundtrack contributions to short films and experimental videos for figures such as Dariusz Kowalski, Lotte Schreiber, and Anu Pennanen. It's fitting, then, that his first solo album bears the title Film, and the six electroacoustic pieces comprising the release, most of which are reworkings of material Németh contributed to those filmmakers' works, are suitably cinematic in character too. In addition, the occasional appearance of field elements—the first sound one hears, in fact, is traffic noise—strengthens the material's evocative character.

“Via L4 Norte,” from an untitled film about Brasilia that Németh himself is constructing, is introduced by solo drum kit episode that anchors the jagged splashes of an electric guitar and the atmospheric interplay of various percussion devices. “Field,” assembled using pieces for Lotte Schreiber's short architectural film Domino, brings Radian drummer Martin Brandlmayr on board to intensify the album's percussion-heavy dynamic. The creepy mood oozes portent, as guitar washes circle overhead like airborne colossi. An unexpected turn occurs halfway through when the musical elements are displaced by a collage of field elements and ambient electronic flutter. Németh created the clanging post-rock of “Transitions” for the short film Ortem by Dariusz Kowalski, and the previously unreleased track's abrasive dissonance imparts a strongly disquieting mood. “Luukkaankangas” (also created for Kowalski) eschews beats for an ever-changing stream of Rhodes accents, textural effects, guitar shadings, and field elements. “Ortem Ende” warms its cool, droning thrum of electronics with the lulling jazz-like flow of vibes and drum brushes. Despite the album's heavy percussion dimension, the material assumes a background-like persona, largely due to the emphasis upon atmospheric design and the absence of melodic elements. Furthermore, at thirty-four minutes, Film is actually more a mini-album than bona fide full-length, though in these days of bloat perhaps one should be thankful for small mercies.

March 2008