Robert Heel | In Between
Seldom Seen (12″/DL)
The concept of taking two tracks and then sandwiching them together as a final product, and showing the process of the two parts is near and dear to my creative heart. And that’s exactly what Berlin artist Robert Heel does on In Between, which is released on vinyl in a limited edition of 100 with additional screenprints. Opening with the caress of hum and reverb on In (side one) the record hosts hiss, crackle and a whole lot of foreboding atmosphere. As Heel explores pure white noise in various forms that mimic a stream, waterfall, light rain, it’s obviously sonically fluid, as the low end begins to form rings of drone that scale in width.
The conception for „In Between“ was rather simple: produce two tracks, that „work“ both individually but also (or rather especially) form a unit and something new, when listened to simultaneously. – Robert Heel
The sound space, much like a cavern, uses tweeked out synthetic pitch, like an angelic pipe organ. Each of the three tracks here run for an identical 9:36 time, allowing for the overlay – which we will get to on track three, but just knowing this makes its slowness all the more anticipatory. I’m reminded of some cross between characteristics you might somehow hear on a label like Glacial Movements paired with microsound from either the iconic and defunct Chain Reaction or Plate Lunch. It’s a unique combination for sure. And once flipped to side two Between offers even more love in terms of minor electronics and experimental use of bleeps and other static. Heel even stops the proceedings to focus on a singular metallic sound, allowing the listener to understand the flex between various states of minimalism.
Once the layering begins there’s a bit of funk in the trunk, it’s moderated and only hints at another direction that could be explored, but we only get a glimpse until he reduces the mix again to superfine percussive effects and metered actions. Though this leads right back into something modish, like a nod to abstract dance music – so now I can begin to understand the set-up for the pairing of the two tracks.
On In Between, the marriage of part a and b, we have something akin to a double exposure, or is it a déjè vus? The interaction that occurs between the tracks is quite curious, not always meshing, but sometimes the happenstance of highs and lows is organically spot-on. Because of the rather minimal structures to both previous tracks, they don’t ever overtly interfere with one another, and instead create this ‘other’-ness philosophized by Emmanuel Lévinas and G. W. F. Hegel – but here it’s basically re-arranging sound architecture rather than the deepest depth of thought. This begs the question – are these tracks completely separate and then merged, or were they originally one and split in two? In the end, when tied together they coordinate in a unified sound that is melodic, intriguing and a smart idea.