Mostly recorded in the winter of 1998 in New York (with extra Berlin material added in 2000), Wohltemperiert consists of the second collaboration between Ø, aka Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic, and Noto, aka Carsten Nicolai. This album of cold experimental ambient music is very different from the latter's collaboration with Ryoji Ikeda released a couple of months earlier (Cyclo, also in Raster-Noton's "clear" series). There is very little glitch technique involved and no up-tempo beats or pulses, as minimalist as they could be (with the notable exception of "Grille"). The music is mostly made of (what sounds like) electrical hums, rendering an unusual analog mood. These drones modulate slowly while the artists accumulate delicate textural gestures. "Melodie" is a very ironic title for track five, and yet the two-note motif sketched does feel like a melody in itself when compared to the rest of the music. The pentatonic melody served in the closing "Zwielichtmelodie" makes for another joyful wink at the listener. For, apart from these two tracks, Vainio and Nicolai's constructions remain rather bleak and often take the form of experimentations, studies on gear they are learning to use. Interesting and generally spirited, these tracks don't captivate as much as Pan Sonic's works or Nicolai's more conceptualized performances. Wohltemperiert is a nice effort, but hardly an essential recording.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture