Transformation Tapes by Troum

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Troum & Various Artists | Transformation Tapes
Transgredient (CDx2/DL)

Celebrating twenty years as Troum (Martin Gitschel and Stefan Knappe) Bremen’s incredibly prolific Glit[S]ch and Baraka[H] (formerly known as Maeror Tri), here employ a huge cast of amazing fellow artists who, in their unique way, interpret/adapt, sample and otherwise deconstruct the duo’s work. The results range from sparkling quasi remixes to abstract cut-ups, and plenty in-between. With artists like Martyn Bates, Vance Orchestra, Nadja, QST and Tarkatak aboard along with many other avant remodelers this should be nothing short of a wild ride. The embossed coverart comes with a booklet (16 pgs) and runs for over two and a half hours! To delve into the liner notes by Jim Haynes go here to whet your appetite.

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First up is Times by Allseits (Nina Kernicke). A low rumble emerges and from it a distant ambient drone, like thick clouds of fog on the shore. The volume builds halfway in, and the layers make themselves visible, somewhat straining and as wide as the horizon. It’s a luminous opener. The Silent Fish by Contrastate follows with something akin to a neo-classical overture, stretched, etched, saddled in a grey area. The jangling guitars fall into the dark space of echoes, and a kronky strum follows, twisted within layered voices and veiled ambient textures. Vance Orchestra‘s Giascei is quite removed in its hushed hallows. At twelve and a half minutes it’s one of the two lengthiest inclusions here, and it needs the time and space to allow the listener to lose themselves in the float and smallest circumstance. This is minimal ambient at its finest, down to the finest micro level. The volume ebbs and flows with some blurred industrial noise, but this is awash in tonalities, autonomous sensory meridian response – take hold!

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Though I’m skipping a few tracks throughout, keep in mind that nearly everything here is of interest to those who have come to love this duo’s work. On raison d’etre‘s Anake a short but elusive ambient piece is an aching and harmonic pastiche of sinewy transparent drone layers. Then on Nadja‘s Mirrored in You a hovering, muted buzz, so sensually formless and airy, flirts with the edges of consciousness. It’s as if the duo has synthesized ocean waves to hypnotize the weary mind. Three quarters in the temperature rises for a more voluminous crescendo, but it’s back in this low range silky synth container we end up in. Martyn Bates w/Troum then brings An Untitled Protest, which wakes the proceedings up with vocals and the twang of guitar – something of a folk fable, and the most traditional track in this collection. The synths mimic a passing train, the stripped down mix tackles the agony of war.

There are so many peculiar and resilient moments throughout these nineteen tracks and none other than QST (Frans de Waard) has one of the most unusual on Kapotte Muziek by Troum. In what sounds like a mad scientist’s audio laboratory the electronic tweaks and bleeps lend the first funky foil to an otherwise drone saturated record. This track combines a definite beat-based structured over frothy drones and echo chambers of doom in a way that locks away its secrets. The piece simultaneously speaks of containment and outright frisky freedom in its counter to the base track underneath. It’s a dusty gem, the uncertainty of spectacle.

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Following to a certain extent is Russian artists Θ16 vs. Myrrman‘s Sen No 350.  It’s got a gaseous industrialism and brutalism packaged in a ‘kitchen sink’ mix of broken beats and assorted effects. It’s an off the beaten to its own drum syncopated fun house. On the second platter there seems to be much more mishegas, though when the dust settles we have the Russian trio Reutoff, who have also been at it for two decades, with the inebriating Hypoxia. The deep ambient is interrupted with a crispy edge of proto-industrial acid, but they get there slowly and surely, it’s not a bombardment of pure noise, rather its seething with vibrant and corroded textures. In the end we have something of a broken down chamber psalm of sorts in the form of Ennoia by Moljebka Pvlse. The Swedish group known for its own drones, stretch and pull and elongate Troum to the nth degree. It’s a reverberating, weary, wavy and solemn conclusion — in other words spelled anthemic. At the core this leaves its beating heart laying on the floor.

I’ve heard countless tributes and remix records over the years, but this way of celebrating two decades of noisemaking is more like a nod to an international community that is in its own class.

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