PHON.O: Black Boulder (50 Weapons)


Posted on May 8th 2012 01:32 am

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Phon.o: Black Boulder

Black Boulder
50 Weapons 2012
11 Tracks. 49mins00secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD

Following stints on Kit Clayton’s Cytrax, T.Raumschmiere’s Shitkatapult, Normoton and Detroit Underground, Phon.o’s Carsten Aermes joined the ranks of Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons last year. His last solo full length release however goes back to 2005 when his second album, Bum Down The Town, was published on Shitkatapult, and whilst a few more EPs came out in the following couple of years, Aermes’s time was, for a while at least, taken mostly by his collaboration with former Funkstörung member Chris De Lucas, CLP, which resulted in two EPs and one album in 2008. Since, the East Germany-born producer and musician, now a Berlin resident, had been pretty quiet, until a handful of EPs appeared on 50 Weapons throughout last year, revealing a much more focused, dubstep-infused sound which he has expanded to full album format with Black Boulder.

Taking his cue from Berlin’s minimal techno and injecting it with a hefty does of London-brewed Dubstep, Aermes has seriously refocused his sound around stripped down electronic structures which serve as backbone for his third album. But, if the sonic scope of each of the tracks collected here is purposely kept to a minimum, Aermes manages to build extremely robust pieces which range from the dreamy and fluid Nightshifts, which opens, Leave A Light On, or Hope Light, or the ambient formations of Yudasi to the much more arid textures and grooves of Die Maschinistin, Black Boulder, ABAW 723 or Mosquitoes. Whatever his approach however, the man makes extremely pertinent use of beautifully crafted atmospheric soundscapes which, whilst often placed slightly to the back of the scope, with the drums and bass brought right to the front, create a layer of mystery on Aermes compositions and heavily contributes to giving them a wonderfully haunting feel.

Whilst the majority of the tracks here are instrumentals, a handful use vocal components, either sourced from samples (Yudasi, Die Maschinistin, ABAW 723, Slavemode) or, for the fully developed songs, contributions from Bodi Bill member Fabian ‘Pantasz’ Fenk on the stunning and soulful Twilight, and Tunde Olaniran on the equally emotionally-charged Leave A Light On. These two tracks give Aermes the chance to confront his warm electronic textures to extremely human sentiments, resulting in pieces which are nothing short of impressive.

Despite the intensely electronic and razor-sharp rhythmic aspects of this record, Aermes creates here a set of rather warm and evocative pieces which can at times prove gritty and stripped down (Black Boulder, ABAW 273), at others ethereal (Nightshifts) or surprisingly uplifting and universal (Slavemode, Hope Light). Much more than his previous full length efforts, Black Boulder is a stunningly consistent and enchanting record with just the right amount of attitude and deference, and it is not only Phon.o’s most accomplished albums to date, but also one of this first half of the year’s stand-out records.


Phon.o | 50 Weapons
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
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One Response to “PHON.O: Black Boulder (50 Weapons)”

  1. […] OK, coming back to the current stuff, I am listening to St. Etienne’s new record ‘Words and Music by Saint Etienne’ (lovely as usual), Beach House’s ‘Bloom’ (it grows) and Phon.O’s ‘Black Boulder’. There is a superb review on The Milk Factory, highly recommended, no more to add. […]