Martin Schulte: Seasons

Do you really need another dub-techno recording by Martin Schulte (real name Marat Shibaev)? If there are already releases in your collection by the prolific Kazan, Russia-based producer, acquiring his latest, Seasons, might seem unnecessary. That being said, the new one does offer an especially strong account of his work, and as such the argument could be made that it's a worthy acquisition even if it joins other Schulte releases in your collection.

In releasing a new set of music once a year, Shibaev, who's been producing music and DJing since the age of fourteen, issues albums with a clockwork-like regularity, and as such Seasons is marked by the same kind of tidy efficiency that has characterized his previous output. Regardless of the particular time of year invoked by a track, the seventy-four-minute recording percolates with a sunny nonchalance, as if to suggest that even the most dispiriting weather won't dampen its spirit. Par for the Martin Schulte course, Seasons' grooving exercises in dub-techno minimalism are powered by punchy kick drums, swinging hi-hat patterns, and ringing cymbals, and ornamented by chunky chords, claps, voice and percussion accents, and dollops of burbling ambient atmosphere. While any one of the eleven tracks could be chosen as representative of the album, “Fields” provides an especially elegant and polished illustration of its style.

In eschewing vocals and hewing throughout to a generally consistent template, the album exudes a somewhat background-like character when heard at low volume; played louder, however, a lithe exercise in clubby serenity such as “Emerald” envelops the listener like a warm blanket. Occasionally the subtle trace of a field recording adds colour, but for the most part Shibaev sticks closely to his beats-and-chords formula. Though his track titles reference the changing seasons both directly (“September Sun,” “October Night”) and allusively (“Fields,” “Emerald”), the mood pretty much remains upbeat from beginning to end, with winter and summer regarded by the producer as equally joyful and harmonious times of year.

February 2017