Recording information: Scape Studio, Berlin (2016).
The fourth edition of the Con-Struct series, in which contemporary electronic musicians create new works sourced from the vast audio archive of the late, great Conrad Schnitzler, was helmed by master engineer and experimental dub techno visionary Stefan Betke (Pole). Betke previously remixed Schnitzler's minimalist masterpiece "Zug" in 2010, and his Con-Struct volume continues in the vein of that mix, fusing his dub abstractions with Schnitzler's gritty, fearless experimentation. Curiously, Betke states in the liner notes of the album that he didn't understand Schnitzler's work during the '80s, but it still played a role in helping to inspire Betke to pursue electronic music. With this Con-Struct release, Betke states that half of the sounds he used were from Schnitzler's archive and half were his own creations, but that he only limited his setup to a few items. As with much of Schnitzler's work, the album feels very much like an in-the-moment session, with chance dictating a large portion of the outcome. Overall, though, the results end up sounding closer to Pole than Schnitzler, with Betke's clicking, popping rhythms and dub echoes seeming more upfront than the layers of industrial distortion which sound more like Schnitzler's work. The first few selections lead into each other, and all have a similarly downcast feel to them. "Lacht" takes a turn for the mysterious, with an eerie, alien-sounding voice poking in at certain moments. "Drachenbume Sind Friedliche Wesen" feels a bit more detached and unhinged, with the thumping beat loosely tethered to swaying distortion. "Wiegenlied Fr Katzen" ends the album with an extended period of bliss. The beats are a little slower and more easygoing, and the shifting waves of static and melody seem calm and content. ~ Paul Simpson