CD, Tympanik Audio, 2010
“Turbulences”, the latest from French industrial adept Zeller, could not be more aptly titled. Following his debut album on Hymen Records, “Audio Vandalism” (2008), the concise yet gut-shaking panorama of digital emissions and fractured beats found here challenges orientations in both genre and scale, seating Zeller firmly in the realm of seething, hard sci-fi soundtracks for the post-planetary age. Despite its dread resonances, “Turbulences” explores the notion that, even in extreme environments, serenity no doubt exists.
A bastard child of gritty illbient and technoid industrial, the forbidding and grandiose minimalism of “Turbulences” keeps things crisp and comprehensible – drums, bass, effects. The reductive and shifting dubstep tendencies in this case encourage dissolution of expectations – passages undergo constant metamorphosis, stacking tightly against one another, even while disruptive bursts crash through the well-crafted modulations.
The album’s extraterrestrial themes are self-evident. From the sparse drum-and-click patterns overlaying churning bass in “Sonar Echoes”, and the epic, penetrating energy waves and grinding, unhurried blasts of “Dark Matter Observatory”, to the spasming lower end and frenetic, robotic rhythms forming “Time Dilation”, this is visionary music fit to satisfy any deep space cravings. As a whole dramatically metallic and hard-edged, Zeller’s output here seems born from the bowels of the galaxy, where incredible bombardments of raw energy have honed knifelike percussion and reshaped molten bass into an irresistible, groove-laden composite of the rarest quality.
And what bass it is! Shuddering, fathomless and insatiable, it is low frequencies for those depraved souls to whom fear and ecstasy equate as one and the same. At any moment the unstable structures of “Turbulences” threaten to disintegrate the fabric of space/time itself, quaking as they do with brutal drum patches and abyssal harmonic textures in an array of downtempo deconstructions. Zeller attacks the rumbling, dark ambient backgrounds with calculated coldness, shifting beat structures fluently across each composition, while pulling influences from hip hop to ragga, from glitch to rhythmic noise. “Zion Asteroid”, the album’s final track, is a prime example, its shimmering reverberations and glitched beats picking up from chill head nodding to snare turmoil and old school rave midway through, then transitioning further into rollicking, spaced-out dark-dub electronics.
— Dutton Hauhart