Diamond Version: EP 1 (Mute)
Diamond Version is perhaps an inevitable meeting of the minds of Olaf Bender (Byetone) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva.Noto). The two have been running the Raster-Noton label for ages, and their aesthetics are sort of two sides of the same coin. They’ve both been exploring rhythm and noise as well as the spaces between from the start of their respective careers, with some of Nicolai’s material as Noto being quite severe and minimal. Byetone has typically struck me as more rhythmic, especially in his more recent output, usually with a nice groove that pushes his sound into dance music territory at times. It’s interesting that Mute signed them for this new series of collaborations — they have 5 EPs slated, and this is the first. It’s not entirely surprising, though, I suppose, with Mute previously championing Finnish kindred spirits and perhaps forefathers Pan(a)Sonic. Anyone who heard Byetone’s Death of a Typographer or especially his more recent SyMeta will not be surprised at all by these 3 cuts. In fact, if I hadn’t known this was a collaboration, I’d have assumed it was Bender on his own, because it sounds so similar to what he’s explored in recent years. The broken beat, mid-tempo groove of “Empowering Change” is so undeniably Byetone that it’s irresistible to my ears. “Technology at the Speed of Life” is also quite good, a much faster clip about it, having the same tinge of rock n’ roll attitude that characterized some of Byetone’s SyMeta. I’m curious if their future EPs will be so rhythmic as well, or if they’ll better showcase Nicolai’s knack for atmosphere and texture. Highly recommended listening.