For followers of the deep tech-house and techno DJ based out of Zurich, straight off the bat this is Lee Van Dowski giving the dancefloor a time-out. Reaching back for his experimental welder’s mask when it comes to the album format, it’s how LvD operates away from global booths and holding it down for a choice list of labels including Cocoon, Rekids, Soma and, of course, Mobilee.
Okay, his last album with Quenum, 2006’s ‘As Told On The Eve Of...’, was more ‘him’ tempo-wise. This experimental/chillout session finds a precious heart hidden within twisted metal and frazzled circuitry, crunching machinery together and finding the beauty within, or at the very least, placating the beast he puts in charge. ‘Au Minimum’ goes from cold relentless drudgery to pensive food for thought, within the battlements of an understated wall of sound, and the album’s central paradox of making something to relax to when full of noise, preys on the afterhours ringing of ears.
The jarring rhythms, smuggling soft synth lines within, are akin to putting a pretty bow atop of the cumbersome. Yet after exploring and calming exotic rhythms on ‘Awaken’, almost inexplicably Spanish passions run high on ‘Repli Tactique’; finding civilisation out of desolation, LvD begins softening his dancefloor stance ahead of a late and more urgent breakbeat surge. The inner behemoth fully roused, the tough, arching ‘Dans Tes Yeux’ and ‘Toran’ doing nerdy fractal acid espionage, throws the album off its previously well managed balance.
From the heroic symphonic grandeur of ‘1+1’ deserving to score a cinematic I-was-there moment, ‘Alekhine’s Defence’ marauds untamed, LvD dismissing the album’s inferred vulnerability as he reaches for more standardised snares. Having made opposing puzzle pieces fit, heavyweight industry overtakes delicate artistry, marking Van Dowski as even less predictable as he ejects you from your headphones.
Words: Matt Oliver
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