Markus Detmer 100 Jahre Einsamkeit: Markus Detmer Plays Staubgold

[Staubgold; 2010]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental electronica, neo-kraut
Others: Mouse On Mars, Oval, Tortoise

Many label retrospectives feature a chief figure exhuming a staid collection of recent highlights that have already worn through their month or two of relative ubiquity. Occasionally, he or she will invite other relevant artists to remix tracks, hoping to regenerate interest but instead ending up with a compilation that merely rehashes weary melodies and rhythms, another anthology of dusty gems. Markus Detmer’s current selection of Staubgold notables, however, is utter genius in comparison. Emphasizing the label’s one-hundredth release, the 21 tracks the owner and veteran manager included on 100 Jahre Einsamkeit: Markus Detmer Plays Staubgold not only reflect cohesiveness, but also renders each individual selection bright and polished once again.

Opening with the patient techno of Mapstation’s “I Begin to Know the Map,” the album meanders through a series of experimental and minimalist electronic pieces that either were or should have been more familiar. For the uninitiated, many of these artists will seem iconoclastic. This isn’t music for a vibrant night at the club; like a similar Staubgold set by Peter Grummich, the choices here present Dinner Music for Clubbers. Still, there are plenty of electronic bleeps and blips, spacey keyboard passages, and thrumming bass lines to satisfy even the most ardent fan of European techno. More avid listeners will find that the sequence and pairings prove unique to say the least. Dälek’s run-in with Faust on “T-Electronique” is an obvious standout, and in a passing shot of irony, the To Rococo Rot track “Autonachmittag” was itself taken from a 2006 compilation of the band’s vinyl-only singles.

Several of the tracks, however, reference other more current compositions. In particular, Jim O’Rourke and Tim Barnes’ remix of Oren Ambarchi’s “All Acrostics” captures both the nuance of a well-organized mix and the whimsy of skilled improvisation, while also offering a prescient nod to this year’s excellent Tima Formosa, which features Ambarchi, O’Rourke, and Keiji Haino. Other noteworthy selections include a double shot of the ever formidable Ekkehard Ehlers, starting with his inspired reworking of the traditional “Ain’t No Grave” and a sample of Leafcutter John’s Four Tet-inspired folktronica from his outstanding album Forest and the Sea.

While 100 Jahre Einsamkeit doesn’t mark the end of Staubgold as a label, it’s a symbolic cap to Staubgold as we’ve come to know it. Going forward, the label will re-brand itself as Staubgold Digital for downloads and CDs and Staubgold Analog for vinyl releases. As expected, the two infant progeny will reset their catalog numbers, meaning it will be some time before we get another retrospective of this magnitude. But longtime fans need not worry; in Detmer’s capable hands, one can only assume that the future for the venerable label is bright, no matter the catalog number or format distinction.

Links: Markus Detmer - Staubgold

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