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Electronic Chamber Music [2002-05-11]

The square root of architecture plus inventiveness divided by aural feast. Electronic chamber music for the eclectic listener. Those descriptions pretty much fit the German sound designers Beefcake, but in fact their versatile style makes it hard to find close and the necessary words to illustrate what their music is about. Experience is the only way. Perhaps we can learn through this little article, in which a short talk with Volker Kahl, one half of Beefcake, is integrated.

Beefcake is Volker Kahl and Gabor Schablitzki, two figures known for their work as DJ in the area of Jena, Germany. The brilliant idea of putting these two together with their favorite instrument – the sampler – was born in 1996, mainly due to a successive run of unforeseen events. Without firm destination, the duo wanted to deconstruct everything imaginable in sound and reconstruct and rebuilt the whole thing from scratch, creating a vast landscape of sweet ambient and powerful drum & bass rhythms. The press has been comparing Beefcake with Autreche, Aphex Twin and the likes, but as the Beefcake's discography grew, it saw that Beefcake stands strong with their own unique style, and has long surpassed the so-called "intelligent dance music" –genre.

Apparently, the Beefcake discography started with a demo tape causing euphoria among the press already, describing it as a combination of S.alt, P-a-l and Noisex. The duo quickly got signed with the Hymen label, a sister label of the well-known Ant-Zen, and their first official release saw the light of day in 1997. It was called "Spontanious Human Combustion", only released on vinyl as mini-LP. The wish to see other people and leaving something of themselves behind was mainly the inspiration to continue making music, as done with "Polycontrale Contra Punkte", the first full-length album. That album settled their name and style, music for both on the dance floor and home environment. The effective use of technology, and the gently and graceful harmonic melodies used united with rattling or sometime danceable beats created "Coincidentia Oppositorum", released in 2000. The thematically consistent packaging already suggested that Beefcake only refined their sound. The second full-length album, like all others, doesn't know lawfulness, limit, genres or trends. The Beefcake duo operates in total musical freedom, which produced the third album "Drei" one year after "Coincidentia Oppositorum". A review of that album can be read here.

Strangely enough, Beefcake joined the relatively small and unknown label Thrill Beat Construction for the release of Drei, instead of staying with Hymen. The reason for this was actually very simple: T.B.C. offered a better contract for the duo, and it was easier working with them since the label operates in local nearness of Jena. Although probably less people will find their way to this Beefcake release, the duo doesn’t care for commercial success. There isn't a selected group to handle and their music certainly doesn't belong to a selected drawer. All that is important to them is to create music without the limits of a certain musical field. For our technical readers and other musicians, this is all realized with the following equipment & gear: Yahama A 3000, Korg Trinity V3, Roland MSE 01, Technics WSA, Beringer Virtualizer, Yahama AN1X, Akai S3000XL, Akai CD 3000XL, Korg Effeckte, Wavelab, Cubase, Acid, Rebirth, Faz Modular, Granulab, Soundforge and innumerable and constantly changing software and freeware. Still, it remains impossible to produce a Beefcake live set, according to Volker, due to financial and time –issues, and the improbability of setting up a Beefcake movement on stage.

With the laptop era and easy access to the internet and music software, more and more "artists" are bringing out electronic music nowadays. Volker doesn't find this a very negative development, however he feels that the difference between good and bad music must be clear to the consumer. The circulation of music is expanding due to the higher output, but this can also cause an overdose. An overdose of Beefcake seems not possible at the moment, and the new upcoming EP "Hôte" is therefore awaited with nervous anticipation. The 4 track EP will contain only remixes, and will be released by M-Tronic in September this year.

Don't forget to visit the Beefcake website.

Justin Faase
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