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Wolfgang Voigt
Freiland Klaviermusik Barnaby Sprague , June 22nd, 2010 08:30

As the Cologne-based founder of Kompakt records Wolfgang Voight is probably better known under his Studio 1 and Burger/Ink aliases. Having released under no less than 34 different pseudonyms, it’s safe to say he’s the forefather of wilfully anonymous techno. As his Kompakt label forever shines as an institution of minimal tech, Voight continues on his mission to push the frontiers and expectations of electronic music. Which is a shame, then, that Freiland Klaviermusik is experimental flotsam of the most annoying kind.

Comprised almost entirely of synthesised piano notes played at random tempos and never once settling on a discernible tune let alone anything that we might call a drop or a breakdown, this is what you call a "difficult" listen. Two elements stand out across the whole album – a slappy synth bass tone and tinny toy piano. 'Alleingang' starts things off with said synth bass and we think "whoo!! yea!! minimal!!". Then said toy piano kicks in and we think "ooh... off-kilter... cool!!". But after 30 seconds of clanging tunelessness it becomes apparent that that's your lot. For 13 tracks. Yes, count them, 13 tracks of dicking about with one note without even a 4/4 beat.

OK, OK, at least 'Brucke' and 'Zimmer' begin in the grand tradition of Kompakt microhouse, with the wonky bass note reminiscent of the Flash Gordon soundtrack; Brian Blessed's flying Hawkmen and all that. But nostalgic thrills are not Voight’s game. Latter tracks like 'Kammer'and 'Mecha' are all faux-classical abstractions and plastic piano clangs, with Voight relishing his outsider status and indulging in spasmodic key-thrashing that not even bats would give half an ear to.

On hearing Freiland Klaviermusik for the first time I imagined a wild-haired elderly eccentric in a tatty old shirt and cravat. And as such it had a certain charm. But in Voight's a well-dressed dude with a blond quiff. Apparently influenced by avant-garde composer Conlon Nancarrow, Voight gets ultimate respect for keeping things difficult, but no one is immune from a dud release. Like listening to the cast-offs from Drukqs’ piano bits, Freiland Klaviermusik is simply not an enjoyable listen.