The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


S Olbricht
For Perfect Beings Bob Cluness , July 21st, 2016 16:09

As the talent pools and ideas in the canonised domains of techno – the US, UK, Western Europe, with outposts in Japan – reach saturation point, people have started looking out to different territories for new perspectives and ideas. One particular direction in which people seem to be heading is Eastward. Countries such as Poland, Ukraine, The Baltic states, Siberian Russia, all the way to Central Asian states such as Georgia, Armena and Kazakhstan are providing fertile pools of producers, scenes, and collectives.

Among those territories, there has been a growing underground techno scene in Hungary for a while now – centred around the Farbwechsel, a label that is fast becoming a hub for producers such as Imre Kiss, A I W A, Route 8, and Wedding Acid Group. Among these producers, label co-founder S Olbricht (aka producer Martin Mikolai) has been making pronounced waves outside of Hungary. His concoction of dissipated ambient drones, abstract hiss, stumbling rhythms, and a sense of general lo-fi decrepitude has seen him break out from his own label and land releases on Opal Tapes, Gang Of Ducks, and Lobster Theremin.

It is to Lobster Theremin that S Olbricht returns for his latest album For Perfect Beings, and while his previous release with the label (2014’s A Place Called Ballacid) was done with an approach of one-take unmapped exploration of sounds and hardware, with For Perfect Beings, S Olbricht takes a more structural and meticulous approach in composition, attempting to instil a sense of order and rationality among the ruin and decay in his sound — something he achieves in the opening track, ‘Asterid’. Slight hi-hat shuffles and lonely pings provide a sparse structure where crystal clear analogue tones drift in the air. Throughout the album, this desire for purpose and linear movement is prevalent and it is definitely S Olbricht’s most propulsive work of late. ‘Fadaisco’ contains layers of restless percussive flurries, while the “fast” version of ‘Ovacrwded’ chugs along regardless of the lurching weight of the whole track.

Despite the sense of clarity and purpose S Olbricht infuses in his ticking hardware, there is still a pervading melancholy, as if there is a sense that the attempt to create a sound of rational progression is but a performative act, that reserves have been depleted and time has been exhausted. It is a sound that S Olbricht cannot hold together for long, and surely by the second track ‘Blambestid’, you can hear the barriers already begin to crumble. A sense of inevitability emerges in the shambling rhythms and repetitive synth pulses, as creeping hiss and crunching sounds crawl over the music. Clear lines and boundaries blur as distortion seeps into low and mid-level frequencies, the clarity of the high end slowly obliterated. The mid album salvos of ‘Gesnaria’ and ‘Rien’ show the destabilising of linear time progressions as the rhythm gets stuck in a collapsing loop. The sounds all become mulched in together into a teeming hypnagogic morass.

The music and album art for For Perfect Beings evokes an insular universe, decidedly Ballardrian – time and progress become forgotten ideals. Synth tones coalesce until they become calcified and crack under their own weight. Erosion is everywhere as weeds, dust and scrub reclaim the space where people used to be. There may be nobody there anymore, but the machines are still running and executing on their own accord, with no masters or programmers to guide them. The album’s coda of the “slow” version of ‘Ovacrwded’ is one of emptiness and isolation, a track of ruin that eventually detaches itself and drifts off into the distance.

The aesthetic of grubby, lo-fi electronic music made with what sounds like the clunkiest of hardware has been around for a few years now, with labels such as Opal Tapes, Berceuse Heroique, and The Trilogy Tapes releasing music from outlier producers that’s far removed from the polished, standardised, refined-to-the-nth-degree techno productions we usually get. But while the many of the releases from these labels love to wallow in murk and tape ectoplasm, few can reach the strange beauty that comes from the electronic atrophy and decline hinted at in For Perfect Beings. In looking to add more structure and detail to his production approach, S Olbricht has brought out an album that creates a tension between reason and oblivion, coherence and dissolution.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.