Dopplereffekt Calabi-Yau Space

[Rephlex; 2007]

Styles: minimal electro, sound art, techno
Others: Kraftwerk, Stephen Vitiello, Thomas Brinkmann, Arpanet, Der Zyklus

The Doppler effect is the name physicists use for the change in the frequency and wavelength of a wave as a sound source moves relative to a listener. This is often illustrated with the warping of an ambulance’s siren as it zips by. Dopplereffekt is also the pseudonym for yet another enigmatic group signed to the Rephlex label. While our most common signifiers of this phenomenon are wedded to emergency response and high-tech prediction (many news stations boast their Doppler-based weather tracking systems), Dopplereffekt the group is more concerned with trips into a stark, dark, and synthy past.

On offer here are several unvarnished retro-synth ruminations reminiscent of Kraftwerk, but without the German pioneers’ man-machine shtick. The album art comes from pictures of the CERN particle physics lab, but it must take an understanding of science much sharper than my own to find a meaningful connection between the music and the ostensible source material. Nostalgic production fetishists will find much to like in Calabi Yau-Space’s hissing and scraping and decades-old synthesizer arpeggios. Dopplereffekt confine themselves to a limited, antique sonic palette and focus their experimental energies on panning envelopes and echoes. Metallic pings, pongs, and clicks volley from one channel to another, generating shimmering echoes, while synthesized oohs and ahhs lend a spooky air to melodic patterns that seem both rigid and corroded, like decaying engines.

This stuff is certainly not for everyone: the absence of conventional song structure will likely deter those immune to the charms of diligent sound-shaping. However, the last couple of tracks hold a pleasant and surprising transition from the abstract to the dramatic. Percussion and repercussion hook into a shadowy lockstep that lasts for a minute or so before grinding into new, reverberant phrasings. While still a far cry from verses and refrains, these pieces give the listener more familiar points of reference than the other cuts. My personal affinity for the Neue Deutsche Welle is enough to keep me swimming into Dopplereffekt’s shuddering lakes of echo and reverb, whether they have “songs” submerged within them or not, but even minimal enthusiasts might find the murky revivalism here a bit too opaque to enjoy.

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