Richard H. Kirk

Dasein

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The forward-thinking, unique, and uncompromising work ethic of "contemporary techno's busiest man," Richard H. Kirk, has delivered some of electronic music's most intriguing, outside-the-box compositions since the 1970s. Whether best exemplified as the co-founder of mainstay project Cabaret Voltaire, by his solo records, or for one of his many other projects under various pseudonyms, Kirk has traversed a vast palette of sound consisting of techno, punk, electro, pop, and more. Here he presents his latest solo effort, Dasein (German for "being there" or "presence"; sometimes translated into English as "existence"). There is a lot here that can most definitely be associated with the concept of existentialism, especially the fact that the album twists and morphs, with auditory elements disappearing and arriving unannounced -- you get the distinct feeling that the album has been meticulously assessed. Here, the key word is change: Dasein is a constantly moving, ever-evolving album with accessible elements as well as unpredictable and portentous bits that catch you off guard. A fine example of the album's beautiful madness is encapsulated in "20 Block Lockdown," which consists of arpeggiated harmonies punctuated by ethereal synth notes swimming in resolute delay; it greatly demonstrates Kirk's penchant for pulling listeners out of their comfort zones with an occasional wave of unexpected, discordant guitar segueing in and out amidst the track's electronic foundation. "Invasion Pretext" harks back to some of the classic Voltaire sounds of the '80s. Composed of a bed of looped, almost organic drums and cymbal crashes, the rest of the track comprises psychedelic synth, vocals awash with reverb that disappear almost as soon as they appear, and slightly overdriven, improvised guitar melodies that crop up like an unwelcome and stubborn visitor. The album also marks Kirk's first use of vocals in about ten years. His vocals were produced with an extremely ghostly quality to them, moving in and out of some compositions with swift and sudden character before disappearing precipitously. Album highlight "New Lucifer/The Truth Is Bad" is a perfect example of this -- the track is made up of a battered canvas of noise, ominous synth stabs rising and falling, and discordant guitar creeping in and out while Kirk's vocals adorn the rest of the track with a foreboding, robotic quality. It's still somehow organic-sounding and it stands out starkly amidst the cacophony behind it. Recorded over three years at the famous Sheffield Western Works, the record morphed throughout its creation. Alongside current affairs and the political climate of the 2010s (which have somewhat inspired the album), Dasein ultimately shapes up to be something intricately detailed and captivating while also existing as an entirely intriguing piece of work that is absolutely the sum of its parts.

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