Alter Ego

From Nuutti Meril{inen
Sent Mon, Oct 3rd 1994, 07:08


::: Alter Ego --- Alter Ego (Roman Flugel/Jorn Elling Wuttke)
::: Harthouse Frankfurt (Eye Q Musikproduktion GmbH) HH(LP/CD)6
::: 2x12" CD

  This is a land of wonder, peace and magic; I lay in the furry purple
grass watching the translucent liquid clouds bend the light of the indigo
sky and the triple suns; I think of fish swimming in the milky-white sea
that reflects the thoughts of the clouds; fish of every size and shape,
each forming a living mirror beneath the waves; mythical creatures lay
within stone-throwing distance, giving me an awkward glance or two, while
feasting on the fruit of this land of euphoric beauty.

  `Alter Ego' was a complete and utter surprise to me. I had not expected
something as scale-tippingly beautiful as their debut album is. It is
absolutely not comparable to any other Harthouse album (with the exception
of The Ambush, to which I have not yet given a full listen-through). Though
the sounds are remotely reminiscent of Pascal Dardoufas' and Maik Maurice
Diehl's (Resistance D) `Ztringz Of Life', they are not comparable. I had
grown very much accustomed to the idea that `Ztringz Of Life' would be the
best album ever released on Harthouse. I confess to have been in err;
`Alter Ego', a duo consisting of Roman Flugel and Jorn Elling Wuttke, are
two of the most intriguing composers of electronic music I have encountered
to this date. The album is very intensely ambient, yet very rhythmical,
approaching the electronic music vertigo from all angles.

  `Soulfree', as the starting track of the album, sets the mood of the
hour- long journey to the depths of fluctuating, layered clouds of strings,
melody, basslines with a dub twist and rhythmic exploration. I have no
doubt why this is was chosen as the first track; it is a literal suggestion
to free your mind of burdening thoughts, lay down, breathe deep and feel
good about yourself. This might sound a tad new-ageish, but when listening
to the intensely sad yet harmonically beautiful string melody, I wanted to
either wrap a blanket around me and just feel warm, or to find someone to
hold real close. I did neither, but those are the feelings when I listen to
this song. There is a well-chosen sample of a woman singing `feel so free',
which adds to the overall harmony of the song.

  `Sentimental Books' is a ver Eno-esque song, with an freely atonal piano,
almost too reminiscent of some tracks on Eno's `Nerve Net'. No too intense,
with a melodic string ensemble wired inbetween hammered piano chord
exploration. Percussive rhythm track, very much like on `Nerve Net',
mentioned above. A lot of angst appearing when the piano is in the
foreground. 7:45AM is not the time for structured atonality.

  `Atomic Playground' whoozes off with synthetic organs, bytes puffing away
the chords. Very intense jazz chording and arpeggiating. Thinking of liquid
clouds, bending light. Funny how I make a mental connection with u-Zig and
Tomita (`Planets', mostly) when the portamento'd whistle is introduced to
the layer. The song seems to end too abruptly, leaving something
unplaceable unsatisfied.

  `Chinese Eyes' has well-adopted components from three very identifiable
sources, as well as some pieces of its own. The square-wave melody element
is like straight from Polygon Window's `Polygon Window', as also the drum
track. The other Richard James reference is to Aphex Twin's `On'. The bell
melody is just a variation of a theme. From the beginning, throughout the
song, and to the end, there is a shadow of Autechre hanging above the whole
structure; something old, something new, something borrowed, something...

  Entering `Nude Restaurant'. It seems that the whole album is built around
this particular track. Taking almost thirteen minutes of the hour, it
twists and curls around a very analog-sounding bass breeze. Percussions
circle around the melody (I wish I had headphones to hear this), phasing
strings interrupt the flutish texture. A voice, in the distance; `this is
three- dimensional.' I do not wonder at all that this track was the one to
be released as a remix. I was quite disappointed at the remix, as David
Holmes was not the best choice, in my very humble opinion, to mangle a song
like this. No special feelings towards this one; dancing would be nice.
Eyes closed.

  `Tanks Ahead'. Yes, this was the track that made me think of Resistance D
earlier on. A rather nice song, actually, but the obviousness of the
connection above is too overwhelming at the moment. This was the other song
appearing on the remix twelve-inch. Black Dog Productions. No doubt why I
like the "Bitten By Black Dog" remix better. Downie/Turner/Handley can
really recreate anything. (It seems that I am getting quite tired, as my
sentences seem to have no beginning. Sleep deprivation is fun). Ah, now the
bassline. I have a deep passion for TB-303 sounds, never mind how bleak or
over-used they might sound.

  `Undersea Girl' ends the album. There are some vague recollections of
MLO's `IO' circling in my tired cranium, but then I think of something else
again; why was this not released on Recycle Or Die? Very unusual. Why is it
impossible for me to listen to music without making cross-references and
associations all the time? u-Zig connections again. It is probable that
this album is putting getting there with Paradinas' favourite child and he
is not willing to share. I have to reconsider when I next wake up.

  This album is too good.

  Good Night,
-- 
Nuutti 'Gordon' Meril{inen (gordon@otax.tky.hut.fi) (InterNet Ronin)
Use `finger gordon@otax.tky.hut.fi' to obtain my PGP 2.3a public key.