There’s no point trying to penetrate very far under the skin of Sleeparchive’s monolithic oeuvre, as any variation seems significant only from an absurdly microscopic perspective. Things have been changing around Roger Semsroth, though. When he brought the project to life in 2004 it seemed like a cleansing of the palette, even through the daze of his basic tonal vocabulary: the woozy static of video cassettes, depressed android bleeps, and clunky rimshots reverberating as if sounded in a cave.
Now comparable techno minimalism – the kind blueprinted much earlier in Mika Vainio’s work as Ø – is as fashionable an influence as any on the East Berlin set. For his debut on the city’s venerable Tresor imprint, Semsroth (who claims not to listen to techno) has barely changed his old methods at all: he has simply got better. While past productions sometimes wobbled on a line between primitivism and clumsiness, “Ronan Point” looks refined next to most things in its field. Crucially however, no heft has been squandered. It makes only subtle departures – the most immediate novelty is some gloriously nasty bass, like angry bees stuck in a loop – but there’s no reason why an artist with such a personal idiom would need to do more.
Semsroth still appears every inch a man of Berlin’s extended moment, complete with his connection to the district’s taste-making Hardwax shop. But peer into his music, and the animating spirit that presents itself feels oddly more Icelandic than anything. It’s snow-capped and glacial, naturally, but percolates with steamy thermal currents under the crust. Though these are four uncompromisingly forged tools for clubs such as Berghain, the hidden workings make them absorbing in any event.