Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon Recent Arts
The duo take a trip to the dark side and back on their new experimental album.
As a platform for the more adventurous end of electronics, Tobias Freund’s Non Standard Productions lives up to its name. Over the past decade, a stream of curious releases have trickled out of the label, with widely ranging tempos, styles and themes, leaving only a common thread of fine-tuning, and attention in the details. Freund’s collaboration with Chilean visual artist Valentina Berthelon as Recent Arts is no different. Having previously teamed up for the techno-oriented performance of A Series Of Shocks, the duo now turn their hand to experimentalism, and an album that comes off the back of their audiovisual project of the same name.
The project utilized an application developed by Max Loderbauer and Tom Thiel which loops musical patterns, and subsequently modifies them to prevent them sounding similar, in an ongoing process. As a live performance, it would run in tandem with the manipulation of shape and imagine. Translating that multi-sensory experiment into an album set for private consumption raises questions as to whether its essence might be lost during the reduction process.
The result is ten tracks of varying lengths, all totally beatless cuts. Ambient influences are definitely present, but is far from a relaxing affair, as the pair generate peculiar atmospheres—emphasis is stacked onto the overall experience, and artistic merit over anything else. It is a tapestry of lighter, organic sounds (that begin to sound like field recordings), juxtaposed with Freund’s ever-present dark, sci-fi techno touch. Unpredictable throughout, deficient in melody and pretty serious on the whole, it demands the right frame of mind to really engage with it.
For much of the album, Freund and Betherlon traverse bleak soundscapes. Opener “History of Darkness” is a jolty and disorientating track—drones pierce what sounds like a gathering storm, pursuing you from all directions. It’s a note picked up in “Emptiness Syndrom,” a haunting affair plagued by faraway cries. At other points on the record, that despondency can become a bit much: the relentless white noise that defines “Static Universe” for example, or the breathless gasps of “Branwelt.”
Yet, it is these dark moments that provide the stark contrast with breaks for light, crafting a handful of powerful episodes. The gentle chimes in “Extension of Expansion” feel euphoric after everything that went before, as low-key as they may be. They are followed by the organ-driven “Into Infinity,” a track that resembles a twisted reconstruction of the opening bars to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” At these points, the rest of the murkiness makes sense, providing the balance it needs with the unnerving complexities of its other half.
01. The History Of Darkness
02. Emptiness Syndrom
03. Colors In Motion
04. The Form Of Time
05. Static Universe
06. The Extension Of Expansion
07. Into Infinity
08. Zero Theorem
10. Recent Dawn
Recent Arts LP is scheduled for March 30 release via Non Standard Productions.