System: _ (2002)
As a wholly synthetic music, _ draws from influences in the tone-generator world (think Pan Sonic for one), but substitutes a rich evolving texture for their abstract minimalism. On "Spy," a persistent crackle heralds the introduction of an ostinato drone, expanding and contracting all around the pulse. Tucked in amongst these dry cycles lie reverberant pattering echoes, timed to interlock in subtle ways. Four minutes later, it's off to another world. Down the road, "Micro" is perhaps the most obviously dub-influenced track on the record: it has all the hallmarks. A repeated sinking bass unit drives simple keyboard melodies, with tinkling and digital static all around. Within the boundaries of the piece's formal structure, System manages to engage in a surprisingly fruitful act of creation. The point, it seems, is reinvention. Even in the zone of familiarity, the group tosses in enough counterpoint and detail to rise above the rest and craft something new.
But be warned. Throughout this disc, there's absolutely nothing that will grab you, shake you, or get you up on the floor to dance (barring ingestion of psychoactive substances, of course). _ has just enough warmth tucked in among its ambient minimalism to render it a moving experience, but there are plenty of dark, icy moments as well. Let's hope this debut by System is only the beginning. These artists definitely have more to say.
Track Listing: PPG; Spy; Invade; Micro; Park; Please; SK20; Red Click; 2.
Personnel: Written and produced by System: Jesper Skaaning, Anders Remmer, and Thomas Knak.
Record Label: ~scape