CD, Audiophob, 2007
Dark ambient must not be rushed; you must take your time. Mirko Hentrich, the German artist known as Spherical Disrupted who is also part of the Audiophob team, clearly appreciates this. With the record label’s releases still running in the single figures after four or five years and the second full-length offering of Spherical Disrupted coming more than three years after the first, Hentrich operates at a slower pace than most. The important thing here of course is the quality over quantity factor, and the works of Spherical Disrupted and Audiophob prove this more than comfortably. The fact that “Barriere” is essentially an EP consisting of one long new track, together with ten remixes, would otherwise suggest the low productivity to be excessive, but such is the quality of artists lined up here that this minor complaint is soon forgotten.
The vague and minimal artwork, grainy close-up shots of gravel, mud and rocks, follows on from the original album, “Null,” and gives a good flavour of what to expect: cold and minimal dark ambient with plenty of experimentalist work on found sounds and field recordings. The new track, “Beryllium,” opens with a subdued bass pulse overlaid with electronic crackles and pops, soon joined by a creeping and creaking sound as of old machinery slowly malfunctioning. This builds and deepens gradually, dense drones oppressing the listener while strange breathy or swishing noises in the background add to the nervousness.
The track “Kein,” meaning “no” as in “not any,” is the most remixed track on the album, appearing three times in total. Heimstatt Yipotash add a subtle, syncopated beat to the ominous chord progression over a pop-friendly three minutes or so, whereas Telepherique offer a longer, brooding effort, with clattering metals leading to strange mechanical rhythms. Zero Degree’s version buzzes and throbs with an insistent beat and deep bassline, more like classic electro than ambient. “Leer” (“empty”) opens and closes the guest artists’ remixes; extraterrestrial weirdoes 5F-X effectively deliver a slow, heavy drum loop and high frequency tones over the original spacey synths, while Nerthus are more delicate, allowing ample room for the curious sounds to reverberate across the speakers.
“Projektor” is also featured twice in this album, initially with Mimetic providing broken beats to drive the rising synths, but then Carsten Vollmer spoils the album with an utterly lazy piece of uselessness that sounds like the CD is skipping! Mandelbrot gives us a reduced length impression of “Lakonisch,” skilfully incorporating many of their own imaginative samples and treatments to create one of the most haunting moments on the album. The relatively unknown act Facies Deformis are the last of the guests, boosting the bass drones on “Grau” and pushing it in a powerful electronic direction. Finally, the album is closed with Spherical Disrupted’s own remix of “-“, a cheekily extended version of the original and a fitting ending to a very worthwhile compilation of reworkings.
— Nathan Clemence