Stefan Goldmann: Industry
There are times when I can't help but think of Stefan Goldmann as some modern-day reincarnation of Marcel Duchamp or Andy Warhol. Like them, Goldmann flouts expectations and challenges conventions, and does so with no small amount of audacity and humour. The Berlin artist's latest project explores how effective a music production can be when factory presets only are used, in this case presets from three outmoded devices, specifically Japanese workstation synthesizers: the Technics WSA1R (1995), Korg Triton Rack (2000), and Yamaha TG33 (1989). As per the inner sleeve detail, Industry is the product of “0% sound design [and] 100% presets.” The latter, by the way, are itemized in their complete form within the release's full-colour booklet, itself a thing of bizarre beauty in its mini-gallery of outdoors body-builders (the photos, by Kirill Golovchenko, are from the series Kachalka. Muscle Beach).
This isn't the first time, by the way, Goldmann's done something out-of-the-ordinary. On a 2009 recording, he threaded 146 snippets from over a dozen classic recordings of Le Sacre Du Printemps into a seamless version of Stravinsky's classic and in 2013 issued Live At Honen-In Temple, a decidedly non-dancefloor-styled collection of experimental soundscapes recorded in Kyoto, Japan. Industry isn't a straight-up collection of club bangers either, though it does include a few rhythmically charged cuts: “Looted,” whose handclaps and loose funk groove lend it some degree of floor-filling potential, and the breezy “Hendecagon,” which serves up Industry's most infectious club groove. Elsewhere, radiophonic experiments (“Izod,” “Trench Kit”) surface alongside sparkling reveries (“Point Catwash”). It also feels in places as if some residue of the 2013 release has carried over into the new one: melodically, “Hollow Sound” possesses somewhat of a stately Asian feel, as does “The Bribe 2011,” even if it also oozes a woozy, sci-fi vibe.
Adding to the project's perverse appeal is the fact that, despite being equipped with sounds aimed at electronic music production, the three workstation synths didn't make significant inroads into techno and house, or anything other electronic music style for that matter. Industry doesn't, therefore, feature successful presets but instead “failed sounds of now obsolete synths,” as wryly noted in the press release. Yet while that might generally be true, a great many of the recording's sounds call to mind the ‘80s and ‘90s and low-grade music production for movies and TV shows of the time. The slamming snare and vocoder-like effects featured in “Aurelola,” for instance, embody an entire era all by themselves. With the presets constraint in place, Industry's music naturally sounds cheesy in places, yet Goldmann, not surprisingly, transcends the self-imposed technical limitations through the force of his composing sensibility and imagination. At the same moment you're wincing over the crude drum sounds, you're also grooving to the funk pattern Goldmann's created with them.