Wælder is a Vienna-based duo featuring Jan Preißler and Moritz Nahold; their new eight-track album has all the elements of finely crafted dark ambient works, like rich beats and selectively applied distortion. What sets Non Places apart is its quiet intensity. The material is more in-your-face than we're used from artists in the genre; it gives the disc a welcome sense of urgency.
The first signal comes two minutes into the opener "Iolanta." After a pensive start, we're hit with a groaning, animalistic synth line. Part primal scream, part early-warning signal, we're clearly in for something unsettling. Just then, the piece stops hard.
"Ivory" is similarly menacing, with beats that are harsh and applied sparingly. This under-reliance on programming is part of the album's appeal. As current as the work is from a tech perspective, its spirit is more in keeping with early industrial music producers like Throbbing Gristle.
None of this is meant to suggest the album lacks range. "Sdfs" and "&Found" are relatively light and even uplifting. The album's best piece is the emotionally charged "Every Child May Joy To Hear." Featuring a soft, falsetto vocal and accessible electronics, this is the album's obvious entry point. You won't soon forget this one (in part because the vocals are packed with weirdly strong hooks).
Non Places closes with "Loss." More in keeping with the album's darker material, it is an appropriately severe finale. Think of it as a noise piece with a good beat. (Denovali)