So far I have been lucky to have a handful of releases from the Modularfield come my way. The common thread that runs through them, other than an artistic vision throughout the artwork, is that regardless of what sonic territory they venture in, the sound quality is always high. “Tempelfof” is no exception. Crisp and vibrant sounding, it feels the type of release that is suitable for different settings and moods. Johannes Russ has an ear for constructing melodic electronica based works with an element of off kilter wooziness that runs through them.
“Studio Rauschenberg is the project of Berlin-based producer Johannes Russ. Travelling through countless artistic studios and work flows as a music technology developer, Russ has garnered an array of influence alongside an arsenal of field recordings along the way.
Combining these recordings with analog synths, guitars and samples, he blends retro futuristic sounds apes with contemporary electronics depicting tales of deserts, moons and distant planets.“
“Space Guitar Monkey” opens the EP with a mix of sound devices that run the gammet from dance floor based themes to a collage of different soundscapes. The beats are crisp and crunchy at times, the synths radiate light, while the bass line has an element of funk within its DNA. Russ manages to gather disparate sounds and bring them together in a way that works effectively. The track is a multi-layered one, which offers the listeners rows of sound that they can isolate and explore. Squelchy electronica, ambient tones, hazy almost dub techno elements and the briefest hints of dubstep come together to create the piece.
“Nimble” evolving out of small fractured and manipulated loops, the track sets its direction with a fluid bass line, minimal percussion and clipped synths. A collage of looped vocals welcome in the next adventure in the track, which now has headed for the dance floor. I am vaguely reminded of the great now defunct net labels like Thinner and Autoplate and that minimalistic dub techno sounds they used to promulgate. The noticeable thing of the two tracks thus far is how ebullient they are without being over the top. There is a joyous and infectious feeling to the music that easily is transferred to the listener.
“Tempelhof” the title track I assume references the area that is part of Berlin that once housed the airport of the same name which is now an area that is largely for recreation. This would explain the plane image of the ep’s artwork. The track itself is the most laid back of the collection. It utilises the familiar sound elements of the previous tracks, but in a subdued and relaxed way. The melodic touches that the synths give the piece keep in line with the light filled approach of the previous tracks, but while they have felt more celebratory, this track has a more relaxed and slightly introspective feel to it. The dubby/haziness works well with this laid back feel.
“Snow” signalling a change in the material from the two opening upbeat tracks, “Snow” falls into similar territory as “Tempelhof”, possibly even more stripped back and atmospheric before. Guitar features adding in a nice different texture, while bouncy percussion, slightly distorted noises, retro electronic sounds, dubby synths open the track for a largely percussion free first third. The dubby synths change the complexion of the track away from the other pieces to more moody and submerged territories. This shrouding of the music as well as the cinematic touch the guitar lends to it, offers something different for the listener to engage with.
“Bells” manages to bring the early feel of the EP back and then mix it with post punk sounds – especially the rhythm section. The post punk feel is more the late 90’s / early 2000’s of the likes of The Rapture, !!! or Lcd Soundsystem. It really adds such a different element to the piece that opens up a wealth of areas that Russ could take the music. He is able to nicely graft slightly experimental electronica that verges on techno and then turns it 90°, but make it all seamless at the same time. That said, an interlude does make for a path way for the music to change style and lead you through to a different world.
“Tempelhof” is just another release on a label that I am fast becoming an admirer of. The attention to detail, aesthetics and unrestricted feel to music they release makes them a label to definitely keep an eye on. “Tempelhof” is available on Cassette and Digital.