From the opening stuttered electronic shriek of "Caged in Stammheim" downshifting into a huge bass loop and nervous hi-hat clash -- further matched by a wordless choir and distant strings that are pure horror movie threat -- Demdike Stare once again mean serious business. The second of their three standalone 2010 EPs that would eventually form Tryptych, Liberation Through Hearing marked a return to the approach of Symbiosis after Forest of Evil with a clutch of songs rather than just two with no immediate parallel structure in evidence. But like everything the duo had done up to that point, unease is the key: a blending of sonic signifiers old and new (the former readily indicated via samples of Porter Ricks and Monolake) that couldn't have been made sooner than the year of its release, but which shrugs off easy categorization. Late-'90s-era glitch/techno underpins "Regolith" with Trent Reznor-like sculpted arcs of metallic sound, while "Bardo Thodol" interprets a snippet of a chant into a bhangra-like beat that, once more, mutates into a focused, chilled smoothness, reminiscent of both 1995 and 2011 at once. The muffled chug of "Eurydice" -- which pairs the whir of a distant factory floor with a serene melodic float, only to finally resolve into a chain-heavy clattering in an open space, with that whirring returning like a final ominous threat -- sums up the album well in its focused chaos. Ultimately, nothing is quite what it seems to be before the final note.
Liberation Through Hearing Review
by Ned Raggett