Alva Noto Unitxt

These days, Carsten Nicolai (the producer behind Alva Noto) can seemingly do no wrong. Last year’s bristling ambient overture, Xerrox, marked a triumphant return to avant-garde form after five years without a proper full-length solo album. And now Unitxt (the second in a proposed quintet of albums that began with Xerrox) shows Nicolai moving away from the classically-tinged outlook he mined last year and pirouetting back to the more muscular break beat-mutating clicks and cuts he first explored on 2001’s Transform. Unitxt, however, is a major leap forward from both Transform and the kind of glitch music that made headways at the turn of the century. Nicolai is working with more complex arrangements here and he appears more willing to let things get a bit messy, allowing sharp bursts of dissonance to enter the mix. It’s fitting that nostalgia for the more serious techno of Mille Plateaux, Max Ernst and Raster-Noton has lately drifted back into the minimal mindsets of new acts like Shed and Stefan Goldmann, artists who find the current club culture a bit too formulaic and crowded to produce anything new. A release like Unitxt is a fitting and timely portrait of an uncompromising master at work. (Raster-Noton)