Robert Henke Atom/Document

Robert Henke Atom/Document
Gathering material from performances in collaboration with visual artist Christopher Bauder, Atom/Document is a surprisingly organic listen. Bauder's contribution was a matrix of 64 helium balloons, whose heights he controlled. Henke's musical triggers then lit or extinguished an LED contained in each balloon, creating a kinetic sound sculpture. The first four pieces on the album are either fairly gaseous drones or rhythmic sequences of deadened piano notes layered with more "live" piano playing. It isn't until "[Metropol]" that anything resembling Henke's Monolake work shows up, and even then the electronics resemble bursts of air and faulty circuits. Then "[First Contact]" trips along like a Satie/Cage slap fight inside the piano's body. The album succeeds because of its polarized style and its unified purpose, evident even in the absence of the visual elements. Pared down to four percussive layers for the purpose of the exhibition, restraint yields point/counterpoint tension and, alternatively, a soothing ambience. An album of expansive remixes in the Kompakt style would be a nice follow up. (Imbalance Computer)