Zwischenwelt – ‘Paranormale Aktivitat’ (Rephlex)

If you live for electronic music born in the shadows and bound in layers of sci-fi and perverse mischief, then it’s likely you’ll have a love for Drexciya. And if these Detroit techno heads make your musical whistle wet, you’ll probably be one of many computer music freaks who’ve been waiting with baited breath for Zwischenwelt’s ‘Paranormale Aktivitat’ long player to drop. Released on Rephlex, the original home of the braindance, Zwischenwelt is steered by Gerald Donald, silent partner in one of dance’s weirder, arguably least danceable of all acts.

The mythology surrounding Drexciya is almost as powerful as the legacy they left behind. Their synth-driven Motor City-birthed bleeps were beamed in by anonymous members notorious for conducting interviews from behind Star Trek masks and doing anything to avoid the harsh glare of the limelight. It proved to be a potent combination of sound and look which whipped up plenty of talk over their ten-year existence and only ended after the sad passing of other member James Stinson – but the four recorded albums and slurry of vinyl slabs released on the likes of Clone and Underground Resistance secured them a devoted and obsessive following which continues to live and breath.

Since the untimely demise of his partner Donald has expanded the fanaticism surrounding his beats through various guises such as Dopplereffekt and Heinrech Mueller. And his work is now celebrated by a new generation of techno lovers, spearheaded most notably by Glasgow’s Numbers crew. ‘Paramormale Aktivitat’ then is an online collaboration between Donald Susana Correia and Penelope Lopez and vocalist Beta Evers which arrives laden with the weight of expectation. Translating as ‘inbetween-world’ in German, this is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a challenging listen. The quartet were supposedly inspired by themes of paranormal psychic activity and clairvoyance – and the austere collection of songs on here somehow nail those otherworldly concepts to the digital black hole from which they were born.

The production is cold as ice while the austere, deathly beats are accentuated by Evers’ monosyllabic intoning. Hints of Nico, new wave and early electro float through tracks such as opener ‘Apparition’ and ‘Enigmata’ while evocations of ghosts and nervous breakdowns are drummed up elsewhere – And the claustrophia is only tightened by the sparse production and short song lengths. As cold as a Chernobyl-like nuclear wasteland, only ‘Telemetric’ makes a break for the dance floor but is soon sucked back into the void in which the entire album hangs. The lack of warmth is offset by the ghoulish beauty which persists across the 12 tracks – so the Zwischenwelt projects succeeds in showing how Donald is undoubtedly still as strange and as other worldly as he always has been. Many will be delighted that he’s still making electronica in the half-light. But others may also like to warm their ears on something less glacial.

Jim Ottewill

‘Paranormale Aktivitat’ is out now on Rephlex Records.

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