Pure bass for nights of torrential rain. A cutting-edge urban unguent for rashes and itching caused by the vulgarity of the charts. Near-veteran Carsten Aermes –active since the beginning of this century– isn’t trying to sure up a new sound and seek out an urban panacea. The bloke doesn’t stray at all from the trail blazed by the bass community in the land of contemporary underground electronica. But he does move with an astonishing elegance on the foundations that James Blake, Scuba, xxxy and Burial are still earnestly laying down.
Phon.O’s third album is Aermes’ definitive dissociation from his early technoid impulses; we have here a creator totally committed to post-dubstep structures and the melancholy wavelength frequencies belonging to the new generation of digital romantics. “Black Boulder” is an astral journey into oneself, but a journey without any jolts or pot-holes, as calm and smooth as paragliding. The spirit and the material float on different planes, thanks to a paralysis of bass notes with an airbag, abysmal echoes, liquid keyboards, contemporary chamber electronica and futuristic gloominess. All abundantly seasoned with profound developments and rhythmic bass patterns distilled to the point of paroxysm. Recorded underneath a sky the colour of a television screen turned to a channel showing white noise.
The Modeselektor label, the always reliable 50 Weapons, has put out its most ambitious release, certainly the reference closest to what we could call (in very general terms) “futuristic pop”. You only have to listen to pieces with such evocative vocal segments as the dreamy “Leave A Light On”, with Tunde Olaniran, or the excellent “Twilight”, with Pantasz, to notice it: these are compositions of melodic porcelain in which the bass magma cools to become a dish to everyone’s liking. Because in spite of the frosty, disturbing landscapes– “Black Boulder”– and a few vigorous experiments, such as the extremely tense procession of “Mosquitoes”, one has the feeling of scrutinising friendly territory, of sounding out an album that seeks the listener’s complicity, never requiring an effort. Even on such abysmal, watery tracks as “Slavemode”, one senses a heady delicacy, thanks to the hypnagogue synthesizers and rations of female voice. Can one fight against candidness in the form of 8bits and Cubist percussion in “Hopelight”? Against the dramatic drum’n’bass of “12th”? No. In this LP, you don’t need to clench your teeth. Every cut on “Black Boulder” is a silicon forest where you can lose yourself. Too much beauty.