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Sutekh: On Bach (Creaked Records)

Sutekh returns with his first full-length in 8 years. His output has slowed in the past several years, but his knack for fusing weird sounds with clever ideas is in good form here. On Bach is, as its title suggests, Sutekh’s take on the Baroque composer’s legacy. He began the project as part of the live “Bach to the Moon” performance in Paris last year, where composers presented their own personal interpretation of Bach’s music. He continued his explorations after the performance and the result is this strange album on the Swiss label Creaked Records. Sutekh has always been a bit of a chameleon in the electronic landscape, with output ranging from glitchy techno (his last album, Incest Live, on Force Inc.) to musique concrete and more experimental sounds (2003’s Fell). He’s released some fantastically accessible tech-house singles on Soul Jazz and Context, to name just a couple. On Bach is not really any of these things, though. It’s a playfully strange combination of aesthetics, combining old-school experimental electronic aesthetics (think “Silver Apples on the Moon”) with current technology and tricks. “The Lips of the Foolish Way” starts off as almost goofy nonsense but evolves into something fun and referential in its melodic sensibility, with some shuffle syncopation thrown on everything to give it an added bit of swagger. Every once in a while Horvitz flexes his techno muscle, such as on “Repulsion By Slit And Roundabout” which bristles with the same oddball confusion that characterized much of his near-perfect Pigeon Funk collaborations. The references to Bach are subtle, and at first blush might not even seem to be there at all, but they’re in the details as much as the overall impression. The ostentatious detail and ornamentation and precision of syncopation are right on, and some of the melodic and musical structure, such as the melodic intro and refrain of “The Glorious Day Has Dawned” or the elegaic yet wobbly poise of “It Is Certainly Time.” And no tribute to Bach, however tangential, would be complete without the organ. Horvitz saves this for the closing track, “The Last Hour.” It’s a swirling sigh of drones that exudes the spirit of Bach without referencing any of his music directly — like the residue that remains from all the eons his music has haunted.

Watch/listen: Repulsion By Slit Roundabout

Buy it: Creaked | iTunes | Boomkat