CD, Audiophob, 2008
Matthias Erhard is the creator of Zero Degree. While “The Inner Realm” was the first this reviewer had heard of both the artist and his label, Audiophob, both out of Germany, Erhard has been releasing music under that moniker since 2005 and has an EP and additional full-length release to his credit. I’m sorry that I didn’t get tuned into his brand of ambient industrial sooner. I love this album. As in wholeheartedly endorse, stand behind, would take a bullet for, recommend, etc. That being said, I suppose it is necessary to elaborate even though I am certain that this release will be pleasing to the ears of electronic music fans regardless of their personal genre subscription.
“Eternal Void” sets the tone for the balance of the album; sparse percussion is coupled with a rhythmic groove that expands and contracts around the listener. Several tracks feature bleak atmospherics which methodically wind themselves into penetrating tribal beats and chanting which occasionally borders on sinister and melancholy in tracks such as “Descent”. Tracks such as “Luminary” and “At the Shores of Oblivion” create full, lush soundscapes with crashing percussion and distorted vocals. Strings are pulled out of a space which seems contrary to the underlying composition yet instead compliment it beautifully. “Surface” is the highest point on the album; it is complex and grinding yet still beat friendly, begging to be played with the volume up. Blast it if you know what’s good for you. “Vigil Coma” is another track which commands attention and makes for an excellent introduction to the Zero Degree sound. It is a relentless march with a rhythmic underscore and ethereal keys; samples dig away at the listener and demand to know, ‘are you happy with who you are?’. The album’s single remix offering is a re-working of “Vigil Coma (Large Hadron Collider Mix”). It’s a sexier dubstep version of the original which is worthwhile despite an awkward start and provides evidence that there is plenty of opportunity for subsequent remixing efforts should Zero Degree go the route of collaboration with other artists in the future.
Zero Degree has a talent for painting the listener into a dark and sonic world. The organic, fluid construction of tracks has a playful ebb and flow and special subtlety that is worthy of some quality time in a dark room with headphones. It doesn’t matter if you call this ambient noise, post-industrial, technoid, or whatever the label du jour is… Just do yourself a favor and listen… carefully, quietly, and on repeat. I loved this album from the moment I first listened and it has only continued to grow on me with subsequent spins. While there is a propensity toward lengthy tracks in the range of six minutes, I found no complaint with this and never felt that agonizing desire for a track to hurry its way toward conclusion.
“The Inner Realm” is an well rendered and mesmerizing release that should be able to bridge the gap between a number of electronic music styles and draw in fans because of its excellence rather than its strict adherence to any narrow categorization.
— Shannon Malik