CD, Tympanik Audio, 2008
Hailing from Greece, Subheim is the solo project of the multi-talented artist known as Kostas K, one of the co-founders of Spectraliquid, an Athens-based record label and artist collective focused on experimental electronic music. Released on the new American label, Tympanik Audio, Subheim’s debut full-length comes shortly after his first appearance on “Konkrete,” Spectraliquid’s debut compilation release.
Describing Subheim’s music, one is hard-pressed to avoid noticing it to be heavily influenced by artists such as Beefcake, or works like later Gridlock. While not wholly original or innovative, Subheim’s compositions are extremely solid and effective, emotionally charged pieces that, despite a synthetic execution, feel extremely organic – an apt testimony of the artist’s talent and skill. The use of simple sound elements underlies the greater complexity in Subheim’s music, as crushed broken beats and other rhythm elements are layered with slowly drifting piano and string melodies into subtle and intricate tapestries that involve the attentive listener in an aural embrace. Further, delicate and almost inaudible samples and glitches add an additional layer of complexity, one whose veil almost requires the undivided attention of the listener in order to be lifted.
One of the most important aspects of “Approach” lies in the collaboration with vocalist Katja (another co-founder of the Spectraliquid collective), which lends the ensemble of Subheim’s compositions an added human quality. Seemingly influenced by Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, Katja’s haunting vocal presentations are used sparingly through the album, highlights rather than the norm.
On the whole, “Approach” is a rather melancholic and atmospheric body of work which some may consider lacking variety in composition and emotion. While these are valid criticisms, this sort of music does have its time and place and, as a debut effort (especially as a debut effort), “Approach” is undoubtedly solid, showing great talent and skilled musicianship, not to mention great future promise for Subheim’s growth as an artist.
— Miguel de Sousa