CD, Lovethechaos, 2007
The three members of Frankfurt-based project Signalform have joined in collaboration with Canadian artist Tachikoma to create an album of elegant proportions. Released in digipack format and limited to five hundred copies, “Understanding Media” is as much luscious and enchanting as it is cerebral and clinical. The album consists of ten tracks, with a total duration of forty-four minutes – just about the right length for an afternoon snooze, or perhaps a session of restful meditation. Well-produced and squeaky-clean in its sound dynamics, “Understanding Media” won’t necessarily provide any global communications epiphanies or surpass any typical IDM frontiers, but it will undoubtedly de-stress the hectic postmodern life.
Not quite beat-driven, but certainly not devoid of abstract rhythm, “Understanding Media” has the detached and syrupy consistency suitable for armchairs and chill-out rooms alike. “Broadcast,” for instance, builds on a base of twitchy glitch, with just a dash of blues saxophone for flavor. “Process” features piano instrumentation overlaid on a halting rhythm that is nevertheless as smooth as silk. Added to that is a dancing melody, both free-form and endearing. “Crossfertilize” seems to be an interlude of sorts, placing the listener in the warm-up phase of an imaginary jazz rehearsal, and the following “Compress” features tones textured with staccato pops and grooving synths. “Upload” is a likely yearbook candidate for most glitchy, featuring nicely squelching electronics and integrated samples of what seem to be Japanese girls and laser guns (or something equally delightful). The structured clicks and cuts of “Consume” continue into “Reformat” – which has a fleeting spaghetti western feel – while both tracks rely upon soothing tonal pulses for background and relaxed ambience. “Understanding Media” closes with “Rebroadcast,” which revisits the aforementioned saxophone, though this time juxtaposed with electronic chirps and burps suitable for any imaginary robot friend.
— Dutton Hauhart