Published Mar 13, 2019There is a common thread that runs through much of the music released on Marionette. Precise, minimalistic percussive blips and general electro-acoustic wizardry are common for the label's personnel. Combine this with an emotive approach to melody and harmony, and you have a record label that has been quietly carving out a well-defined niche in the congested field of electronic music. On Moto Perpetuo, the all-Swiss cast of Benjamin Kilchhofer, label mainstay, and Michael Anklin, drummer and percussionist, deliver a purposed exercise in restraint and quality.
The pair of artists gel excellently together across these seven tracks. With Kilchhofer already an expert in making synthetic sounds seem real, the addition of Anklin's drumming as a sort of "live sequencer" frees the music from the shackles of rigid rhythms. Throughout Moto Perpetuo, the sonic palette shifts from quietly struck timbres of metal and wood, to ambient sounds of singing bowls, all submerged under the hums and crackles from a record long discarded. There are real moments of energy, however, as on tracks like "Unstet," with its tribalistic cajon incantations, and on "Irrig," where serenity gives way to gnarled and abrasive synthetic sounds, before returning to its status quo.
Although moments like these offer variation from the subtle orthodoxy, Moto Perpetuo truly shines when elements are given space to breathe. The off-kilter arpeggiation in "Flor" give the impression of a hastily arranged sequence of cacophonous modular sound. On "Tal," deranged woodwinds drone amidst what sounds like frantic rummaging through a box of percussive instruments. "Zinnen" is the highlight, with its lingering Rhodes-esque keys adding emotive profundity amidst the creatively strewn percussion that comes the closest to finding a groove.
Moto Perpetuo, or perpetual motion, is really a statement of affairs going into the project. Kilchhofer and Anklin's rotundal compositions seem to fold into themselves and begin anew in unexpected directions. Make no mistake, this is challenging music, but rarely is such intrepidity so easy on the ear. (Marionette)