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Cristian Vogel - Black Swan (Sub Rosa, 2010)


Timing is everything with this record. I was lucky to have even heard this record in the first place. This was sent to me “blindly,” and I’m glad it was. My only previous experience with Vogel was with his Station 55, a record that baffled me when it came out with (to my ears) its inconsistency. That record was much more conventional techno music, and I just didn’t return to it after a while.

I almost didn’t realize that the artist behind Black Swan was the same person as the one behind Station 55; that’s how different this sounds. Looking a bit deeper, I should have been tipped off to the sounds contained herein because of the label affiliation, and the fact that this series is a new one for Sub Rosa, one that will focus on “unusual” sounds (read: fairly conventional, though compelling, concrete, electroacoustic, and noise). Obviously this was to be much more to my liking.

Timing is also funny because this coincided (for me) with seeing Black Swan in the theater. Such a small coincidence (this piece predates the movie’s release as it was done in 2009 for a production by Gilles Jobin) jumped this in the queue and hit me at the right moment. Still nostalgic for the time when I was down the street from BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), with visions of the movie’s final scene still fresh, this piece, though totally different in sound, came to life for me. The textures, the carefully placed bass tones, unfolded in compelling fashion. I couldn’t imagine a connection between the sounds and the imagined movement - I felt these sounds most likely were aimed at creating atmosphere.

Upon further reflection, this album is sort of electronic, but in the Demdike Stare way. That is, it hints at full on techno through the aftershocks of techno stripped from their genesis. Instead of pulsating beats, we only have the ripples shorn from any true beat. There is rhythm here in the way Xela might employ rhythm: as a transition device, as something on the periphery, as a byproduct of mechanics or electronics manipulated beyond recognition. So, true, it doesn’t really sound like something you can dance to, but at the same time, it works. These tracks have very rhythmic components, they just aren’t locked together nor are they continuous in their groove.

I wish I could see this production. The soundtrack seems even more involved than the Ben Frost work for Mortal Engine. I’m definitely going to be looking into the rest of this Sub Rosa series, and I encourage you to also.

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