Friday, June 4, 2010

Ellen Allien

Dust (BPitch Control, 05.2010)

For: Apparat, Kraftwerk, Pantha Du Prince, LCD Soundsystem 45:33

Byline: Leading lady of German electronica cuts loose from the dance floor and creates an insular, contemplative masterpiece.

There hasn't been too much press on Ellen Allien's latest album Dust put out on her BPitch Control label this year. What a shame, because as much critical fawning as Pantha Du Prince and Four Tet got this year (myself and Crawf included) Dust is just as enjoyable, reveling in the same deep, understated minimal production and self-turning excursions, instead sweaty dancefloor rave-ups. Dust is all driving, motorik time-signatures, rarely varying in its tempo and range, creating a type of surging hypnotic sway that locks you into the tractor beam of its laser-eyed focus. Perhaps without the same indie recognition of Pantha and Four Tet, her fame pretty much lies with fans of German experimental electronica and those who still follow the Morr Music label religiously. So, with all that exposition of those who probably won't hear this album (i.e 99 % of us) let me make a broad appeal to all of you thinking about not reading any further (LOLCats can wait). Here it is...

Ellen Allien is good for your health.

You may not care about the physical regimes of two music bloggers, but Ellen Allien has been a most welcome running companion for both Crawf and I this past week. Like I said earlier, most of her tempos are locked into a steady 4-4 motorik pattern that is just swift enough to think you can match its pace. Just even tempoed enough to keep you chasing that dragon. Not blazingly fast like Aphex Twin, or novacaine slow like Burial, her most easily accessible rhythmic counterpart is straight forward rock and roll. Persistent driving, tracks have enough lyrical flourishes (Allien's cold German sounds soooo good autotuned on "Sun The Rain") and bottomless instrumentation to keep your mind occupied trying to figure out what is going on in there. Like is that a lap steel? Kalimba? Should I stop? I think I threw up a little. No. I am fine. Keep running. (If this is any indication of my inner monologue - I am a super hardcore runner)

The rock oriented "Sun the Rain" is a perfect example, a throwback to the early 2000's IDM coming out of Willhelm, Germany when groups like Lali Puna, The Notwist, and Ms. John Soda were layering thick slabs of buzzing guitars and driving bass lines over bubbling, mictrotuned electronic beats and programmed synth lines. On your run, you might want to skip "Should We Go Home" unless you are running with a super nice set of headphones - the sheer awesome ambience running underneath the track might be missed. But, if we are operating on the sheer basal line of beats, Dust has those in spades. Each track seems to be working with a completely different sound palate, with a echoing "tubular bells" type thing spanning several of the albums most killer tracks. Is it me or does album opener "Our Utopie" totally sample Clinc's organ line on "Harmony" off Walking With Thee? Either/or, a fantastic move.

Bottom line. Obesity kills. Diabetees is affecting our generation at an unprecedented rate. Buy this. Because summer is coming and you want to look good for the babes.

Ryan H.

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