Answer Code Request: Code (Ostgut-Ton)
I was only heretofore familiar with Patrick Gräser’s ACR via a 12” on Marcel Dettmann’s MDR imprint (I posted a clip recently), not realizing when I downloaded it that they had a new full-length on the way. He’s since migrated to Ostgut-Ton, and the album brings with it a different sensibility, something sleeker, more seductive, more varied. I expected this to be a pretty minimal techno affair but to my surprise the tempo varies as much as the palette of electronic sounds. He’s definitely sequenced Code as a proper narrative album; despite it being fully instrumental, the music carries a certain arc from start to finish, moving you through the diverse terrain of his world confidently and smoothly. “Relay Access” is a nice chunky downtempo IDM groove, haunted by the ghost of Detroit in its sweeping pads but otherwise recalling late 90s electronica (in a good way). “Status” on the other hand is exactly what I would have expected for the whole album — a chugging, relentless techno bass kick with spacious pads and effects weaving in and out of the beat. But generally, moodwise Code is a more upbeat album than I expected, with a track like “By the Bay” sounding optimistic rather than Ostgut-Ton’s more typical deep aloofness. “Field Depth” ricochets beats and synth drips all over the place, harking back to mid-90s Artificial Intelligence-era Warp, while “Blue Russian” is an effects-saturated groove that feels more in line with the techy grooves of Brothomstates’ albums than most of the Berghain set.
Code has its fair share of beatless tracks, too; opener “Code” and interlude “Spin Off,” not to mention the gorgeous extended floater “Odyssey Sequence” and dreamer pre-closer “Axif.” Techno heads might get a bit lost along the way since so much of Code diverges from that sound, but I think it’s better off for that reason. In many ways this feels like it’s looking backward to rather varied techno and electronic albums I associate with the turn of the century (Christian Morgenstern’s Death Before Disko comes to mind as a sign of those times), and it hits all the right notes for me.