Alva Noto and Byetone form Diamond Version, which may or may not be an homage to Pokémon

Alva Noto and Byetone form Diamond Version, which may or may not be an homage to Pokémon

Ironically (and until now), two of the three founders of the Germany-based Raster-Noton — Olaf Bender (Byetone) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto) — haven’t done much collaborating with each other. Presumably this is a result of the friendship they established when they were teenagers; in other words, they knew (consciously or not) that spending too much time together could prove detrimental, similar to the friend/roommate progression that many college students experience. You can easily imagine how a falling out would occur: “I’m not laying down the rhythms until you clean up the communal fridge, Olaf!”

If you thought the rumor of Summvs being the final collaborative album between Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto was a sign of the former winding down his career, well then, obviously you’d be wrong. FACT reports: under the name Diamond Version, Alva Noto and Byetone have just signed to Mute, through which they’re planning to release five EPs over the rest of this year — the first of which is Technology / Empowering Change, due out July 23. Check out the sufficiently German cover art above. The duo also have a full-length album in the works for 2013.

A lingering question, though — why now, after roughly 16 years at the helm of Raster-Noton, are Nicolai and Bender choosing to fuse their creative minds? Nicolai offers an explanation: “We occasionally performed encores together after our solo sets. These spontaneous and improvised tracks always had a kind of “special energy” which we missed in our solo works … Diamond Version tries to capture this energy and combines it with conceptual ideas…”. Those conceptual ideas include titles and iconography drawn from a “host of corporate slogans,” ultimately used to form an aesthetic “charged with surreal and subversive humor.” I have no idea what this means from a musical standpoint, but Bender describes a style rooted in rhythmic music, but decidedly not club-oriented. “It’s a bit harsh, and a bit more noisy [than our solo projects], but this is not the main focus,” Bender says. It’s all too deep for me.

• Alva Noto:
• Byetone:
• Mute:

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