Robert Henke Signal To Noise

[Monolake; 2004]

Styles: minimalist drone, synth wash
Others: Brian Eno, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Monolake

In the mid-90s, New York City's electronic music scene was quite splintered, at least in regards to record shops. For trance, there was Throb, for disco-house there was Vinyl Mania, for drum and bass there was Breakbeat Science. But when it came to techno, it was usually Sonic Groove Records on Carmine Street where I first heard Monolake and the Chain Reaction/Basic Channel label for the first time. Monolake was at times a duo with Gerhard Behles, but in the end, it became a vehicle for Robert Henke. Nearly ten years later, Henke has recorded his third solo release, Signal To Noise, a minimalist wash of drone and crackles that epitomizes cold German winters and the relationship between man and machine. Crammed into 55 minutes, three expansive tracks make up the album. Keith Fullerton Whitman's use of drone and minimalist loops are probably the best source for comparison, but instead of Whitman's reliance on guitars as his origin, Henke's veteran use of computers shows the master showing his chops. On "Signal to Noise II," melodic elements akin to "Treefingers" from Radiohead's Kid A leave a lasting impression on the listener. Henke's liner notes cite his use of the Yamaha SY77 as the tool used to filter and synthesize the 'boring' drones originally created for the album -- hence the signals became the noise. Henke makes it clear that there are no natural sounds on this release, everything is artificial. During the making of Signal To Noise, Henke's home in Berlin experienced severe thunderstorms on a regular basis. This environment, coupled with the filtered drones has given computer music new life and sees Henke at the forefront of a synthesis between artists and computer music.

1. Signal to Noise I
2. Signal to Noise II
3. Studies for Thunder

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