To listen to Bryan Müller's prolific output is to have your expectations repeatedly dashed: Just when you think you've pinned down his sound, he releases another track, or another EP, that completely defies categorization. Under his moniker SCNTST, the young German producer and DJ has already released a debut LP, a number of both label-sanctioned and self-released EPs, as well as countless mixes, singles, remixes and one-off releases. While some of his earlier material veered into J Dilla-indebted hip-hop territory, his debut album, Self Therapy, was a perfectly curated 14-track portrait of this prodigious producer's arsenal of over 200 tracks. Blending IDM, techno, breakbeats, bass music and seemingly every other electronic sub-genre known, Self Therapy was a veritable tour de force.
All this to say that it's completely pointless to have any preconceived ideas when listening to Müller's sophomore SCNTST album, Puffer. Once again, he's managed to eschew most traces of his past and instead plunges headfirst into what can only be described as a blend of spacey ambient lo-fi compositions. Most of the tracks subtly repeat themselves while being cloaked in layer upon layer of soft synths or delicate drums. The two separate versions of "Mondquelle" that make up the album's mid-section showcase Puffer's understated duality, with the "Reviewed" version taking a detour into almost-club territory, and its "Spirit Mix" completely deconstructing its elements and instead making you question whether your earphones are properly plugged in — its start-stop motion is both destabilizing and intriguing. Meanwhile, tracks such as "Life Of Ares" and "Flight" recall Burial's brooding yet engaging world, complete with dark, pitch-shifted vocals.
While Puffer may lack the immediacy and club appeal of its predecessor, it offers up a 15-track exploration of the emotional and intellectual possibilities of electronic music, one that should not be ignored. (Boysnoize)
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