In the same way that “The Coldest Season” (Modern Love, 2007) was a winter album, “Sommer” lets us know from the title itself that its point of departure is summer, or more specifically, the end of the summer, when temperatures start to drop a little, gradually giving way to the best time of the year, early autumn. For Rod Modell –who went solo again on this new album, as Stephen Hitchell is only involved when aliases like Echospace, Variant or cv313 are used– it seems as if that time has a special magic, as if it were a moment of transition towards a better climate and, therefore, a state of physical and mental plenitude. This may be why in comparison with “Hash-Bar Loops” (2011), “Sommer” sounds fresher, airier. That first LP on Soma drew heavily from techno resources (drum, box, echo—it was like a hardened version of any Echospace title), but now all of that tension is gone and we are back to the same absorbing dynamic as before.
In all of Rod Modell’s recordings, in any case, it’s not the drum that you have to pay attention to, whether it is hit strongly or softened by reluctance. It is what surrounds the drum, what enfolds the entire composition, which interests us. A fan of recording field sounds with his portable recorder, Modell has earned a good reputation as a sort of “documenter of atmospheres”, a thief who steals sounds from different cities and spaces - cities at night, their silence broken by footsteps on the street, the murmur of a car in the distance, electricity in the air – but he has also varied his modus operandi here. He explains that all of the field recordings that underlie the music, like a muddy riverbed, belong to the sound ecosystem of a beach near his house where, we imagine, he has spent moments of peace, oblivion and concentration. In the background we hear waves and birds, footsteps on the sand and the rumbling of nearby storms. Furthermore, entering into its 70 minutes of enfolding warmth, one has the feeling of having gone from the cosmos – the cosmic, infinite amplitude of Hitchell & Modell on Echospace – to a very private microcosm that seems like Modell’s own vacation diary, a capsule in which all of his world, or the entire world, is concentrated.
I insist: in terms of techniques and results, “Sommer” is not an especially different work from others that have appeared under the name of Deepchord. They are basically similar here to what we’ve had since 2000, when the project appeared as the American response to Basic Channel, but with the refinement and perfection solidified in the latest compilation of the echospace [detroit] label, the extraordinary “Altering Illusions”. What changes is the smell of the music, which is saltier, and the impact of this techno exploration at the seashore, which is more relaxing. The entire sequence of tracks –from “Glow” to “Wind Farm”– is joined in a continuum without silences, without abrupt transitions, as if it were the constant, unceasing pounding of waves on rocks: water and land, atmosphere and beat, in a beautiful dance of nature. There isn’t much more to say: if you are a follower of the Deepchord / Echospace dynasty, “Sommer” is another necessary title, a must-hear – I don’t think that anyone will have decided to stop listening to them of their own accord. And if you aren’t, here is a selling point: “Sommer” is the unexpected soundtrack to a summer of seclusion, a summer that is already cooling off.