Monolake - Ghosts (Imbalance Computer Music)
Robert Henke's Monolake project returns with its first full length since 2009's foray into untreated sound Silence, this time utilising more drum and bass-inflected structures to explore the malleability of sound. One of Henke's major achievements has been his continual ability to utterly reinvent the contemporary zeitgeist, redefining the minimal sound with Hong Kong, creating a terrifying industrial/ breakbeat hybrid on Momentum, and reinterpreting the merging strands of dubstep and techno as an experimental untreated album on Silence; as such, it's slightly jarring to hear a man widely regarded as being at the cutting edge of electronic music's philosophy and science reacquainting himself with his D'nB and Breakbeat roots. It's fair to say that credibility of both genres has been severely strained over time, with the tools of the trade (funky drummer, reeses bassline etc) having been overworked to the point of boredom, or pushed to extremes of speed and volume that inevitably burn out.
Whilst Ghosts opens with a rapid 2-step pulse and lfo-wobbled sub-bass that sounds very breaksy, it's immediately recognisable as Monolake, with dessicated vocal snippets and armour-piercing percussion that sounds like absolutely no-one else - it's Henke at his most terrifying; doomier than ever, haunted by freakishly engineered vocals and sprays of digital glitch. Whilst much of the tempo of the album is decidedly upbeat, as a musical journey, it's a slow-moving beast that takes gazes on Goan psychadelia and eastern mysticism, playing out through singing bowls and the echoing sounds of great valleys. Creating natural acoustic phenomena through digitial synthesis, then feeding them into an array of digital effects is a stark contrast to Silence's unmastered beauty, and as such, even the more ambient moments of the album feel imbued with darkness and doom.
Ultimately, any new record from Monolake is happily recieved, and even total curveballs such as silence, and Henke's inimitable style makes for compelling listening. With Silence and Ghosts the first two parts of trilogy, I'm eagerly anticipating the final third.