Dosenöffner - Push For Signal [Modern Tapes - 2019]
Here is a nicely packaged yellow cassette from Modern Tapes, arriving in a printed cardboard wallet with a little insert. Push For Signal has five tracks, varying in length from around five minutes to 25 minutes, all performed by Peter Keller and Casey Chittenden Jones - the first of which you may recognise from Bacillus and Condon Horro. Like those projects, Dosenöffner is noisy, but it’s not noise - unless we’re going to start inventing even more pointless genres like ’synth noise’…
The album has been created using ‘modular synthesizers, noise generators, synth boxes, and sound processors’ and this gives it a wide palette of electronic sounds; everything from strong - or delicate - full tones that we might associate with modular synths, through to the rawer, chaotic squeals and noise of more primitive, even homemade devices. The result is a dirty, sometimes even ‘sweaty’ set of recordings, far removed from the sterile, formal nature of many modular synth works. The first track, and shortest at just under five minutes, Fußgängerübergangst, is an introductory swirl of dark synth tones, almost vocalising over a misty hiss, whilst chirruping sounds leap about in the mix. This serves as a preamble to the longest piece on the album, Tag der Ahnunglosen, which stretches to over 25 minutes. This length, and the structure and colours of the track, give it the feel of a landscape. It begins with a whistling drone and reverberating synth pulses, before a rhythmic pulse emerges over a noisy lo-fi background: a very effective passage. This develops, tangling rhythmic patterns around the original pulse, before transmuting into some odd, disinterested techno that wanders a little. The end section is much more solid; the pulse remains but the tone is much sparser, as moaning synths rise and fall, accompanied by synth babble. The second side of the tape starts with Uhrwurm which immediately presents a darker, more aggressive atmosphere, founded on a very slow, intermittent, noisy, blaring bass rhythm, embedded in swirling layers of drone. Nabitter, the next piece, is the second-longest here, just over 14 minutes; it is more subdued, though also tenser, beginning with a raw drone sprinkled with synth pitter-patter. After a short section of what sounds like vocoder sounds, a dark drone rises, a breathy and swirling low drone, punctuated by attacks from stabbing electroacoustic-esque sounds. The final track on Push For Signal, Reaperbahn, is an airy drone, overlaid with a twisting and turning synth pattern, with metallic overtones. It builds, and dissipates, into a drifting eerie drone; a fine ending to the album and probably my favourite track here.
This is a good, solid tape which mixes up some expectations and tropes of synthesiser music, resulting in an album that is simultaneously accessible but not a simple, definable listen. So, it has many droning sections, but it’s not a drone album, and certainly nothing meditative; it has rhythmic passages, some of which border on techno-esque music, but it’s certainly not techno; it has a lot of noise and noisy sounds, but it never coalesces into anything overwhelmingly noisy. Depending on your point of view, these are either potential criticisms or words of praise. There are some sections that are less engaging than others, but overall a project worth your interestMartin P