In the short pause between its first and second tracks, Sebastian Ehmke’s new release, L36, does a complete costume change. Where the opener, “Chrono,” is a dark, rumbling abstract bit of work with dramatic chord bursts, its followup, “Stadium” kicks in the door, guitar in hand, and catches your attention with a downright upbeat post-rock feel. (Okay, I had to hit Wikipedia to get a definition of post-rock after reading it on the Tympanik Audio website. I’m no expert. But it’s accurate.) And the thing of it is, “Stadium” is much more indicative of the catchy, thoughtfully constructed blend of the subtle and the forthright at work in L36. This is a disc I’ve gladly looped several times in a row. As SE, Ehmke loads his work with varied sounds and shifts of tempo, tone and temperament. L36 is filled with pleasant sonic surprises. Beats drop into flows at precise moments, formulated to get an “aw, yeah” out of you. And they will. Many of the pieces here start with the sort of low-level sonic bed felt in “Chrono,” and then build from there. A deep listen will let you better appreciate how Ehmke crafts his layers. “Lily,” for example, starts with a stream of old-vinyl pop and hiss; a guitar comes in after a while; then another, playing off the first’s lead. Beneath them, choral chords float in to finish the depth of the thing. “36 HERtZ” is a 21st-century breakup song without words. And I have to confess that I absolutely get chills from Ehmke’s use of a heavily distorted voice in “Beton.” L36 is one of the best CDs I’ve heard in this genre. It’s inventive, expertly made and simply demands to be heard over and over. In fact, I’m going to go listen to it again. L36 is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
Available from Tympanik Audio.