In anticipation and commemoration of the start of the 21st century, German sister labels Rastermusic and Noton launched the magazine-like 20 To 2000 series. Between January and December of 1999, the labels released a monthly 20 To 2000 "volume"--a limited three-inch CD featuring 20 minutes of exclusive minimal electronic music. 20 To 2000 participants represent the international elite of microsound artists, and each volume is intended as a unique impression of the last 20 minutes of 1999.
On August's volume of 20 To 2000, experimental impresario Robin Rimbaud provides a premonition of things to come. Scanner's piece, subtitled "Cystic," opens in near-silence, with only a flicker of mangled speech-sound writhing above a muffled, all-but-subdued beat. The rhythm enters ambient foreground at the halfway mark, snaking through low, rumbling clouds, bearing with it frog-like croaks and a haunting Sufi-style prayer refrain. As the rhythmic tide builds, this keening voice takes on an urgent, almost desperate presence. The nameless mystic sounds his cry even as the word falls back into silence. You could interpret "Cystic" as the human spirit standing in defiance of time's unswerving tide or, given the music's grim tone, as a bleak vision of 12-31-99 as the Eve of Destruction.