Sten

Leaving the Frantic

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The third full-length from Peter Kersten in as many years, Leaving the Frantic is credited to the alias Sten. Since 2002, Kersten has occasionally drifted away from the gloomy, abstract microhouse he releases as Lawrence, with yearly singles and the odd contribution to multi-artist EPs. What separates Sten from Lawrence? On the surface, not much. You get the same grayscale graphic design, as always an indication of the stark tones that the producer ceaselessly works with. These tracks are relatively straightforward when compared to the ones heard on the two Lawrence albums, less likely to provoke images of rusty hatchets dangling in the wind. The spaces between the beats are tighter, the beats land with mechanical precision, the mechanics are more about the beat than the atmospherics, and the surfaces are cleaner. Dirges are nonexistent, replaced with quickened -- almost racing -- fleet-of-foot stompers. (Imagine an early Cure record filled out with forceful songs in the vein of "A Forest" and "Primary," as opposed to slow-pulse processionals.) Anyone remotely familiar with the Lawrence releases will recognize instantly that these tracks are the work of Kersten. Even though his looming synth shadings and glum melodies have taken a back seat, they're still present, and his approach to rhythms is simply more reliant on grooves. There isn't a great deal of variety from track to track, whether the pace or basic components is considered. Only "From a Spire" stays in place, while everything else pushes forward with an imaginary destination. Five cuts on the CD are taken from vinyl releases (including "Asami," a highlight on Tobias Thomas' Smallville mix); the vinyl version includes two cuts not featured on the CD. Whether taken track by track or in whole, the album acts as further proof of Kersten's sky-scraping stature among his contemporaries. Hopefully this release won't become as scarce as the Dial label's other 2004 album, Pantha Du Prince's Diamond Daze.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
4:48
2
6:28
3
7:36
4
6:05
5
5:21
6
5:30
7
7:00
8
6:44
9
6:51
10
3:05
11
7:07
blue highlight denotes track pick