Philippe Cam

Balance

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Balance compiles Philippe Cam's initial trio of 12" releases for Cologne's Traum label. The comparisons that the producer's work began receiving to Manuel Gottsching's landmark E2-E4, as a result of the tracks packaged here, aren't without merit at all. Like certain passages of E2-E4, Cam stitches together chilly synthesizer patterns that intertwine to create a sense of rhythm without using an actual beat. Every now and then, Cam truly nails the bull's-eye to induce a state of ethereal bliss that rivals his influences (which also counts Wolfgang Voigt's work as Gas, albeit the beatless side). While the remainder of these extended pieces -- which average ten minutes in length -- don't exactly place him at the vanguard of ambient techno producers, there's certainly enough to sink your teeth into and enjoy as background music. Aside from the relatively noisy "Caddie's Day," the whole disc goes down in a wash of subtlety. The closing "Karine," on the other hand, is immediately stultifying and intoxicating, a major bull's-eye; running over three minutes longer than the abridged version found on Kompakt's Total 2 compilation, this version still seems frustratingly short. Like the most involving ambient techno, it also beautifully demonstrates how the absence of a beat can be more freeing than crippling, creating rhythm and melody without the typical ingredients.

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