Angel: 26000 (Editions Mego)
This unlikely collaboration between Pan Sonic member Ilpo Väisänen and Dirk Dresselhaus (a.k.a. SchneiderTM) bucks expectations based on either artist’s respective repertoires. It certainly falls closer to Pan Sonic’s severity than any of the pop leanings of SchneiderTM, but this is really neither of those things. It’s far more organic than any of Väisänen’s usual electronic pulse music, with droning passages of strings and freeform noise ebbing and flowing. But it’s way more unpredictable than that description may sound; despite the prolonged droning haze of opener “Before the Rush,” even this track surprises by turning into a blast of feedback and rackety noise in its final moments. “In” is a clutter of percussion and found sounds, sounding out of character from the rest of album but bristling with activity. To be honest, it’s my least favorite track here, testing my patience compared to the more fluid and dynamic tracks that surround it. Its complement, “Out,” is far less intrusive, still defined largely by live percussion on found objects, but it somehow relates to the rest of the tracks better for me. The final track is the longest; “Paradigm Shift” hums and oscillates for 10 minutes (the closest comparison to Väisänen’s work in Pan Sonic or elsewhere) before feedback and noise begin to rise to the surface. The combination of seemingly random live percussion and noise with electronic manipulation recalls some of the harsher Mego backcatalogue, especially Fenn’O’Berg, but the final result here feels unique in personality. It’s not particularly accessible, but that’s never been the label’s agenda, and despite some surprises — some more pleasant than others — it’s a solid release.