Efdemin – ‘Decay’ (Dial Records)

Phillip Sollmann’s third full length as Efdemin is a masterful collection of ornate Techno arranged with poise to reflect the serenity of the shrines and mountain temples surrounding Kyoto, Japan where it was for the larger part produced. This is contrasted with deep dystopian undertones, echoes of the GDR ringing sinister and seductive. Envision the architectural structures of East Berlin, dark and obtrusive, crumbling around the edges yet robust and perpetual. When pumped full of Techno, these brutalist forms have found their perfect function. A sense of place is definitely evoked from the sounds on this dichotomous record and this unlikely combination facilitates Sollmann’s exploration into a certain beauty which runs deep in loneliness and decay.

Although this record is less melodic than his previous releases for Dial, Efdemin’s signature chimes and pulsating melodies are omnipresent in accordance with his strict attention to detail. His love for Drone and Minimalism shines thorough on the record, with the influence of composers Steve Reich and Phillip Glass clearly audible.

The first track “Some Kind Of Up And Down Yes” is a pulsating arrangement of shimmering chimes and bells which strobe around randomly spliced questions which one may recognise as excerpts from the classic television game show ‘What’s my Line?’ which ran in the US for many decades. The concept was for a panel of blindfolded guests to guess the identity of a random celebrity through asking various occupational questions, with the sound bites bringing a dreamy, nostalgic quality to the track. It’s a stark contrast to the music but it’s blended so well that it sounds akin to being suspended in a peculiar dreamscape, a timeless amalgamation of past, present and future. There’s more of the same on ‘Drop Frame’ – drum pads throb along fuzzy claps/analog snares and white noise. The track comes to an abrupt standstill and quickly whirrs back into motion with added percussion, building to form a powerful tool for the big room.

One can feel lament rising to the surface on ’Tranducer’ as a down pitched vocal speaks incomprehensibly whilst keys reverberate in random harmony. The percussion is key on this one, you can’t help being captivated by it’s simplicity. On ‘Solaris’ Chimes ring seductive and sinister. It’s like a post-modern score written for films of the German Expressionism era. Dr. Caligari’s somnambulist walks silently among us once again. ‘Decay’ is another winding Techno soundscape that would be well received on the dance floors of any institution of the dark arts. You have to put things into perspective and imagine the potential power of this music, when used in a marathon set.

The atmospheric, soaked pads and warped, stretching waves of ‘Subatomic’ oscillate right on into ‘Track 93′ which features a vocal uncharacteristic to the rest of the album. You can feel an energy building immediately under the words “I gotta a-love, a-love, a-love right here…” well placed claps lift this track and an unexpected winding sound appears and disappears throughout to make this the standout piece on the record. “The Meadow” is another well produced piece of music, it calls to mind many assorted Omar S. records and surprisingly enough Floating Points’ sound, but stripped of it’s radiant hue. Melodic beats, bells and blips resonate in unison on ‘Parallaxis’ to form quite a pleasant and warm piece that rolls along until it slowly fades into the final Exit-lude “Ohara” – a minute of light feedback dressed with chimes and a creepy monologue addressing a perversion to piano.

Now is a very healthy time for Techno, which has been extending it’s grasp from below-ground to captivate larger audiences with it’s dark, enchanting spells and only positive repercussions. This year has already seen artists such as Perc, Untold, and Lakker (on top of countless others) taking experimental approaches to the sound. This output has been terrifically exciting and many great releases will fall to the side as a result. Efdemin’s probings into the beauty in decay are right up there and the production values are tip top.

Decay is out now on Dial Records and available to buy on digital and vinyl here.

Conor McTernan