Lassigue Bendthaus: Matter (23rd Anniversary Edition) (AAA)
Uwe Schmidt is a man who wears many musical hats, many of them colorful and occasionally outlandish or goofy. His aliases are too numerous to name, though he seems to have largely settled on Atom™ for his endeavors these days. Past projects include Señor Coconut, Los Samplers, Fonosandwich, Atom Heart, the Naturalist, Disk Orchestra, to name a few. Lassigue Bendthaus is one of his earliest projects, releasing Matter as a debut LP way back in 1991 (and then a couple other expanded editions in ‘93). For someone who lives on the cutting edge of technology in music, it’s not only fascinating but brings a smile to my face to relive these glory days of the early 90s, when Lassigue Bendthaus was exploring material that both falls right in line with other electro-industrial acts of its time but also flirts with ideas and concepts that quickly evolved the project into something more advanced and unique (with the subsequent Cloned and Render albums). I haven’t given Matter a thorough listening in at least 10 years, so it’s great to not only re-experience it but to know that Mr. Schmidt himself is promoting the anniversary of the project with this even more expanded digital release, including many tracks from the Hertz and Automotif EPs. Fans of Schmidt’s vast and diverse catalogue might be surprised by how ordinary this music is, tucking rather neatly into the goth-industrial landscape of its time. Schmidt’s vocals have a bit of a deeper bellow to them, especially on opener “Automotive,” sounding more in common with Bigod 20 or Apoptygma Berzerk than with his own typical voice.
And there is an uncredited female guest vocalist leading “Lanternslide,” lending it additional crossover potential into the darkwave scene. But just below that patina of cyber/goth/industrial schtick are at the very least signs of the rather bold and exciting directions Schmidt would take the project in even just a year or two’s time. The sputtering bass/snare fills of “Mortal/Immortal” and “Statique” play into his follow-up Cloned in a big way, and “Transitory” is a great nod to Detroit electro and toward the future. These gestures and treatments complement the more typically electro-industrial stylings of the galloping beat of “Hertz” or the booming gloom of “Inured.”
Compared to the goofy sounds of a project that followed a few years later like Fonosandwich or the meticulously engineered pop deconstructions of his most recent Atom™ album, HD, Matter might not surprise and delight in such unique ways. But it is fascinating to hear Schmidt’s starting point, dabbling in a scene and sound like this when his ideas and ambition clearly are already broader and bigger. Even on his next Lassigue Bendthaus album, Cloned, he began to push the boundaries of manipulation and integrating new technology into his music in ways that were startlingly forward-looking (and still sound pretty great today). And so I quite enjoy coming back to Matter, hearing his earnest beginnings and the first output from such a restless, boundless musical mind.