If this review doesn’t make much sense, it would be because of the amount of time I’ve spent having my brain scoured by the excellent, industrial-edged minimalist trance of producer Stefan Gubatz’s Distanz, so it’s a little like I’m writing under the influence. This is a batch of stripped-down, bleached-out EDM structures powered up by the relentless undertow of trance. Start listening and you get pulled under and held under, surrounded by increasing masses of sound. Gubatz’s sources, though electronically generated, come off sounding like he’s armed himself with an arsenal of PVC tubing, industrial springs, and hunks of metal that he slaps, whacks, shakes and otherwise gently abuses while sequenced beats hold down the tempo. Fact is, he’s playing with a lot of dance-music tropes here. Steady thumping rhythms, gargantuan swaths of bone-rattling bass, and the endless straight sonic lines of trance. In fact, some listeners may not care for the repetitive nature of Distanz. It helps to have some appreciation for tonal shifts that happen in glacial timeframes and the way in which the introduction of minute elements can alter not just the piece or its direction, but also your perception of it. Of course, all these things are the earmarks of good trance, and Distanz is definitely that. You will zone out while listening, guaranteed. But when your brain can focus, there’s a lot to hear. I love the echoing twang that fills “Metal Worms,” the way it just takes over my head, and how Gubatz keeps adding to it to create a complex tangle of sound which he then pulls apart as the track winds down, creating a little mental breathing space. “Villa Nicht” seduces you with a bass heartbeat and gnat-sized pops of glitch. There’s a great air of grim expectancy here that increases as Gubatz begins to open it up–steam hisses and industrial echoes, a building beat, and dub-derived rimshots, and suddenly I find myself rocking a bit to the sound–coerced, sonically, to join in. It’s not all grind-and-hypnotize, however. Take a listen to “Offshore” and the way Gubatz sews together a definite chillout-room feel, with lazy organ chords and more of that dub snap, then shoots bolts of more industrial-grade sound straight through it. A drop, and he laces in a long, high, hanging note to offset it all. Great track. Every time I listen to Distanz, I find myself turning up the volume. I have to believe that I am somehow being subconsciously urged to try to cram more of these dark grooves and luscious atmospheres into my skull. And friends, I am happy to do so. On the Telrae web site, it’s noted that “The intention of the album is nothing more nothing less than to create an atmospheric intensity.” Congratulations, Stefan. You nailed it. I’m hooked on Distanz.
Available from Telrae.