TBA Empty Stupid Rotation

[MaxErnst; 2006]

Styles: minimal techno, German techno
Others: Perlon releases, Ricardo Villalobos, Richie Hawtin, Kompakt, Bpitch Control

For some reason, I (and Philip Sherburne) have a lot of patience and affection for records like this one: a chugging, clinking, plinking beatfest that does the work of big, brassy dance music with the smallest of sounds. Getting off on minimal techno grooves is like quenching your thirst with drips from jagged icicles instead of gulping from a three-liter jug of Hawaiian Punch (à la Basement Jaxx). TBA Empty pave Stupid Rotation with such grooves, creating a pebbly surface on which pretty little reverbed arcs, synth washes, and nonsensical lyrics can gambol, jive, joust, or simply spin.

I could understand and even empathize with critics who would call this music formulaic, rote, boring. But I still enjoy it: a savvy producer creates suspense by sustaining tiny patterns and rewarding the listener's endurance with clever shifts in tempo or timbre. When a sick backbeat irrupts one of these precise little toy circuses and harshes your mellow, shatters your trance, wakes you up: delightful.

"Linsey" is a good representative of the virtues of such music; the song has enough rhythmic drive and consistency to be appropriately called a dance track, but it also boasts timbral sophistication and structural play worthy of comparisons with both drone practitioners and the work of "electronica" artists like Four Tet, who often have a tendency to sublimate beats in favor of more wayward eccentricity (which I can/do appreciate, but hot damn, so much the better if the shit moves me and gets me moving). Congrats to TBA Empty on a respectable contribution to the flourishing "minimal" techno mini-genre.

1. Tour
2. Dacha
3. Linsey
4. Briday
5. 33 Pharell
6. Readers R Fools
7. Kit Landing
8. Brain Is Gone
9. Infectious
10. D Lay
11. Stupid Rotation
12. Calm
13. Masa
14. Rocks