Sebastian Zangar: Children of M
Certainly one central key to Sebastian Zangar's second album appears in its title, with the M an indirect reference to Maurizio (Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald), whose Basic Channel material had a huge impact on the Romania-born German resident. Children of M isn't, however, a one-dimensional rip-off, no matter how indebted its sound design and dub-techno style are to Basic Channel and Chain Reaction. Also key to the album is that it wasn't created within a single cloistered studio but instead at two locations: Berlin, an admittedly primary inspiration, and Ingarö Fagerholm, a tiny island near Stockholm, Sweden.
As a result, the album's twelve tracks incorporate aspects of both the city and the country, and the tension between contrasts—the industrial world versus uncontaminated nature, for instance—occasionally surfaces in the material. “To Stardub With Love,” for example, seems to have its feet planted in both locales, with the sweltering humidity and plentiful bird chatter evoking the countryside and the marching bass-and-drum pulse suggesting the hectic pace of life in the big city. The metronomic pulsations of “On the Train,” on the other hand, lead one to visualize a scenic journey undertaken by Zangar from Berlin to Ingarö Fagerholm, while “Waldeckpark” possesses similarly evocative power. On this otherwise instrumental album, a rasta-fied voice surfaces alongside aquatic burble in “Silent Saxophone” in a way that aligns Zangar's project to Ernestus and von Oswald's Rhythm & Sound project rather than Maurizio.
Children of M isn't a concept album per se, but it is bound together by the dub-techno theme, even if the twelve tracks were ones selected from dozens Zangar created between 2012 and 2015. He won't win any awards for originality and innovation, but there's no denying the album offers a satisfying take on the style. Minimal bass-and-drum patterns repeatedly rise out of heavy mist, their insistent pulsations augmented by clangorous chords and metallic washes, and with the tracks bathed in a perpetual blanket of hiss and crackle, there's atmosphere aplenty and no shortage of rhythmic thrust, too.