Posted on Nov 21st 2008 01:22 am
M-nus Records 2008
13 Tracks. 89mins15secs
2008 has been a landmark year for Minus, celebrating a ten year anniversary. Started by Richie Hawtin as an outlet for his own projects, the label has come to embrace a small, focused clique of like-minded artists who plumb the dark (and sometimes sexy) depths of minimal techno. Being honest, Gaiser’s productions have never grabbed me as much as label mates Heartthrob and False. There’s a subtle, difficult difference between an expertly crafted minimal track, and a boring loop repeated for far too long. Jon Gaiser (don’t the cool ones always have the neatest last names?) certainly had potential, and singles like Egress displayed a knack for funky rhythms, if not the most innovative of evolutionary track structures – a must for anything 4/4 and minimal.
Blank Fade sees Gaiser kicking it up a notch, and is one of the best full-length albums under the M-nus label, sitting comfortably alongside False’s techno speedway, 2007. Listening to Fade, it’s apparent that what Gaiser takes in influence from Hawtin is equal parts Hawtin’s own tunneling pieces with incessant bass under his given name (a staple of he majority of M-nus releases), and Plastikman, the dilated master of echoes who has sadly only graced the noughties with one release. Holding out for the next big dark sprawling masterpiece, Blank Fade isn’t quite at the level of something like Plastikman’s Consumed, but it’s a breakthrough full of exciting little caverns of groove and blackness.
The killer bass riffs are the meat on the percussion bones here. Ciliate With juggles metronomic synth blips over an eccentrically jolly sub-bass which, I’d imagine, reaches bowel-loosening factor five when unleashed in a live setting. I can imagine a skinny, art-damaged performer with a half-bang of bleached hair that bobs along in time to knob twiddles and “check this out” hand gestures when Ciliate pops on, and that is a fantastic sign. Whether Or Not flips from fluid to crunch; once again, that bass line could be on repeat for an hour and still not have progressed through its full minimalist potential. Only this time the percussion stomps in with handclaps like leaves on a forest floor, uncharacteristically in-your-face. The skinny hep cat just gave a mischievous little smirk before dropping those snare claps.
Blank Fade is a surprising smack of hunger, adrenaline, and some kind of high octane that was previously unexpected from Gaiser. Trunkated, the single and standout track, is in fact tiring after its nearly ten-minute in length, but not because of any kind of boredom. No, it’s just that Gaiser won’t let up, and listeners are left to stare at tense white knuckles while the kitchen sink of reverb, phasing, blips bleeps meeps and creeps swims on by. Remember the tunnel of the mind scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Gaiser’s pulling the same trick, only the lights are a rhythmic collage of black, white, and electric grays. Words pop in on Fade at odd moments, appearing mostly as deconstructed and effect-washed phonemes. “I think you should take the whole” is the closest I can divine for the eerie voice on Face Down, and as for the whole what exactly, we aren’t meant to know. Rather, the sound of voices is more fodder for the heart palpitations and claustrophobic sweat.
Blank Fade is sex in a ventilation shaft, metallic tastes and plumbed depths of disorienting whooshes and bumps. It’s a consistent, driving, and undeniably cool full-length record of minimal techno, a rare and impressive feat. Just try to breathe slowly and through your nose.