Lena Andersson | Söder Mälarstrand
It’s refreshing to see a nice new direction for Raster, and the clean graphic lines are indicative of the beat-driven new release from the duo Lena Andersson (Berlin-based Japanese artist Kyoka and Irish producer Eomac). In an instant this can sound like an engine trying to kickover into start, but the mode shapes itself with the rhythmic structure which glides between minimal techno and a post IDM style with vocal fragmentation and treatments. And that’s just the opener, Middle of Everywhere, ft Seiki and Mike Watt. Söder Mälarstrand is a real place in Sweden by Stockholm, but it’s also the duo’s fictional character built into the moniker.
The disc has a punctuated throw-back sound of one of the classic Raster-Noton live shows. It’s bold and definitive with each beat, yet in between there’s plenty of wiggle room, soft and hard, over and over. And incoming is the funky, almost systematically tribal tracks, 37 Years Later (remixes please!). This one’s got some in its trunk, junk I mean. Balancing watery sounds and an undulating bass beat, its pretty potent. The mood is bright, spirits way up. An experimental approach counterbalanced by intricate editing, and exquisite synth and vocal effects. More bold than subtle, the beats are the driving force, held together and made unique by what all else occurs within the in-between.
The aggressive tendencies, yet poker-faced delivery of Con Un Cuchillo harkens back to mid-80s Cabaret Voltaire. There are twelve tracks here that could have been constructed into three or four quadrants. They have heavier beats (Das Tier), cooler meandering passages (Mieko Loop and Mystic), Byetone-esque blended microsound vs. techno (Anarchy/Joy + elsewhere), and floating ambient drone with added static (Profit Over People). It’s a nice conceptual flow throughout, and then you have a quirky track like I Want Her (You) To Call Me Baby which acts as a transitory wink of slowed techno half-beats and shy industrialism. The closer, Le, again is poised with an aerated tribal beat, broken up by these balloon-like interruptions and murmurs, catching every third syllable (perhaps in Japanese). It’s a rush. Funky, fun, and methodical.