Solarium: Olari

In some countries, pre-programming one's funeral selections is now rather de rigueur. For those contemplating a cryogenic route, allow me to propose Solarium's Olari as the ideal soundtrack. Though Martin Wigger's first album (2002's I-XIV) favoured ambient and soundscape material, his 53-minute follow-up oozes cerebral electronic crunch of the first order. Even the presentation reinforces the severe aesthetic, with numbers substituted for letters (thus 'Olari' becomes '15 12 01 18 09,' for example) and song titles numerically matched to fragments of the word 'solarium' (backwards and forwards, no less).

With its incessant detrital chatter and lurching parade of pinballing beats, the opener “Olar” perfectly encapsulates the textural finesse of the Spezialmaterial sound, as does “Riu” which opens with a warped Jew's Harp seizure before settling into a piledriving groove. Olari includes a few ambient sojourns through deep space (“Sola,” “Uir”) but for the most part it's a non-stop cavalcade of pounding beats, spectral glistens, menacing tones, and thrumming pulses. It's resolutely machine music, with the sole 'natural' sound (and even it a likely simulacrum) a subtle woodwind honk that appears amidst the grimy flutter and crystalline tones of “Iral.” Mimicking the beautiful and deafening roar of whirring and clanking factory machinery, Olari's dystopic and brutally cold future-funk doesn't define a new template but is a near-perfect instantiation of an existing one.

August 2005